Ashburn, Virginia--For Donald Henderson, a resident of Ashby Ponds, continuing to work into his retirement years is a labor of love.
Donald works as a member of the security team at Redskins Park, the headquarters and practice facility for the NFL's Washington Redskins just minutes away from the Erickson Living retirement community.
"I've always enjoyed sports, and this position is a great part-time job that is not only fun but allows me to work with wonderful people," he described.
Donald is part of a growing number of Americans re-entering the workforce following retirement. A 2017 Bloomberg study reported that U.S. seniors are employed at the highest rates since 1962, with almost 19% of people 65 and older working at least part-time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that number is expected to continue to rise, estimating that by 2024, 36 percent of 65- to 69-year olds will be active participants in the labor market.
Explaining why older American participation in the workforce is on the rise, Bloomberg cites that "many seniors are healthier and living longer than previous generations. As a result, some decide not to fully retire because they enjoy their jobs or just want to stay active and alert."
Following a 33-year career as a field agent for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Donald was eager to stay active in the workforce on a part-time basis.
"I was looking for two things essentially. First, to involve myself in something completely different from what I had done at the IRS," he says. "And second, an opportunity that provided flexibility so I could enjoy activities that I love, like golf."
Shortly into his retirement, Donald interviewed with the Washington Redskins for a job in the equipment department at the team facility in Ashburn.
"I remember the interview very well," he says. "The supervisor told me that they were not interested in hiring a belt-looper, someone who is only interested in the position as an opportunity to hang around the players and the coaches. I told him he didn't have to worry about me. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and am a lifelong Steelers fan. He said – you're hired," described Donald.
For five seasons, he commuted from his former home in West Springfield to Redskins Park. After practices, he gathered uniforms, washing and returning them to the appropriate lockers.
"It was a great job," he says. "I worked in the locker room with the players and coaching staff and became friends with a lot of them. I now always cheer for the Redskins except when they play the Steelers."
In 2015, Donald moved with his wife Joan to Ashby Ponds, where his daughter-in-law, Holly Henderson, serves as the community's Director of Sales. In addition to relocating closer to their four children and numerous grandchildren, the move put Donald within a few miles of Redskins Park.
Wishing to find part-time employment, Donald looked to reconnect with the team. In 2017, he accepted a position with the security department at Redskins Park, working at the main entrance. Unlike his previous position that provided work only during the playing season, this new position offers year-round employment.
"I enjoy the job very much," he says. "It's nice to do something new. Most of my co-workers are also retirees so we work out our schedules to accommodate one another's hobbies and travel plans. It's really a great set-up," said Donald.
The job fits perfectly with his active lifestyle. Donald is an avid golfer in a league at Twin Lakes Golf Course in Fairfax County, and he is a regular visitor to the fitness center at Ashby Ponds. He also enjoys walking his dog, a boxer named Little Bit, around the community's loop road.
Donald is in good company with his fellow residents at Ashby Ponds.
"Our residents are amazing people," noted Craig Karczmer, Executive Director of Ashby Ponds. "They are changing the traditional concept of retirement, taking advantage of opportunities to volunteer, travel and, in Donald's case, continue to pursue career endeavors. Our team is proud to offer them a worry-free environment so they can live to the fullest."
About Ashby Ponds: Ashby Ponds, one of 19 continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia. The community is located in Loudoun County and is home to 1,300 residents. Additional information about Ashby Ponds can be found at AshbyPonds.com.