Ashburn Couple Gives New Meaning to the Term "Civic Engagement"

September 20, 2012

(ASHBURN, VIRGINIA) - Richard and Linda Hardin describe themselves as citizens whoalways voted in elections, made donations to candidates, and posted campaign signs in their yard in Arlington, Va. where they lived prior to moving to Ashby Ponds retirement community in Ashburn, Va. in the fall of 2011.   Richard, 62, a retired federal employee and Linda, 65, a retired Arlington County teacher, now find that their days are filled with a variety of volunteer activities related to the upcoming election on November 6.  With the debate over Medicare costs and coverage a major focus this year, the campaigns are looking more and more to seniors like the Hardin's for their support.Shortly after moving to Ashby Ponds, the Hardin's founded the Progressive Group, adding to the over 80 resident-initiated and resident-run clubs and groups at the community.  Over time, membership in the Progressive Group has grown to over 90 residents, many of which attend monthly discussions on a myriad of topics.  "We'll often send out a reading list of clippings or articles that members can read beforehand," said Richard.  When the Hardin's aren't planning for the next group meeting, they can likely be found volunteering at the new Obama campaign office in Sterling, Va. or helping with voter registration both at Ashby Ponds and in the surrounding Ashburn community.  
The Hardin's have set aside two hours twice a week through the end of September to assist Ashby Ponds residents in updating voter registration records, with the deadline of October 15 fast approaching.  Since Ashby Ponds opened in September 2008, all current residents have moved to the community within the past four years, and the Hardin's are making a great effort to be sure residents have updated their addresses.  "On our first day, we secured 13 new registrations and confirmed the registration of a dozen more residents," said Linda. The couple also spends two hours weekly at the nearby Obama campaign office, helping with tasks from updating canvassing records to organizing campaign paraphernalia.  

On Election Day, residents at Ashby Ponds will be able to take community shuttles to the nearby precinct at Farmwell Station Middle School, but the Hardin's have also volunteered to drive residents to and from the precinct throughout the day.  Additionally, the Hardin's are providing information to voters on the recent changes to Virginia's voter identification laws, helping to ensure voters bring an acceptable form of identification to the polls.
The Hardin's volunteer efforts are felt on many levels from canvassing, to working a phone bank, to even cooking for the local campaign office.  "I'll probably cook breakfast this year," said Richard, who is the epicure of the pair.  On Election Day in 2008, the two also recall delivering trash bags to nearby precincts in Arlington to serve as ponchos for those voting during the rainfall.   "We'll do whatever needs to be done," said Richard.  The Hardin's seem to even be enjoying the conversations they are having while working the phone bank.  "Many people do engage in conversation, and we haven't experienced many ugly discussions," said Linda. 

For the pair, years ago they wouldn't have imagined that their volunteer efforts would now be so far-reaching.   "The days of just posting signs in our yard seem to be over," said Linda.

About Ashby Ponds:  Ashby Ponds, one of 16 retirement communities managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia (approximately 30 miles west of Washington, D.C.).  The community is home to over 700 residents and is filled with fascinating people and fantastic opportunities.  With over 80 resident-run and resident-driven clubs and groups, an indoor pool, a fitness club, transportation services, 24-hour security, and flexible dining options, life at Ashby Ponds offers a true sense of community and is an exciting alternative to the typical retirement community.  More information about Ashby Ponds can be found at: