Keeping Holiday Traditions—and Creating New Ones—at Ashby Ponds

December 17, 2019

Ashburn, Virginia—"I have always loved to entertain," says Judy Hetu who lives at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community.  "Before moving to Ashby Ponds, I lived in Florida and enjoyed a very active social life.  When I made the decision to move, I was hopeful that I'd be equally involved.  I'm pleased to report that everything is not just as good, but better."

Within days of her July 2018 move, Judy planned a 4th of July party for her neighbors on the third floor of Cherry Blossom Square, one of 13 residential buildings at Ashby Ponds.

"Life is a joy, why not celebrate," she says.

A December Party

Following the success of the first gathering, Judy began making plans for a Christmas party with her neighbors.

"The best part about throwing a party at Ashby Ponds is that your neighbors are literally just steps away," she says.  "It's easy to get together often, if you so desire."

With a year under her belt, Judy had bigger plans for the 2019 holiday season.

"Neighbors began asking in the fall if I was going to host another holiday party," she says. "So why not expand our guest list.  My first thought was to invite the entire building.  But for that we needed a larger gathering place."

Partnering with Faith Edwards, Senior Manager in the Resident Life Department, Judy secured Farmwell Hall, the new 300-seat meeting place at Ashby Ponds, for December 12.

"It's a bright and beautiful space," notes Judy.  "The perfect spot for a party.  But it's also very large, so we entertained the idea of inviting more people."

Party Planning with Friends

Posing the idea to friends living at Birch Point, one of Ashby Ponds' newest residential buildings, the idea for a two-building party took root.

"The more people included, the more people are eager to help," says Judy.  "Someone from each floor of the two buildings was responsible for a different part of the planning."

Edith "Edie" Bartlett eagerly accepted Judy's invitation to help plan the party, distribute flyers and purchase supplies.

"At Birch Point, we host a building party every other month as a way of helping new people get acquainted with their neighbors," says Edie.  "We were all looking forward to the holiday party."

Community member Michael Murta, a pianist and frequent performer on campus, provided live entertainment, playing Christmas carols and inviting guests to sing along.

"We want everyone to have fun celebrating the holidays among friends," says Judy.  "Each guest was asked to bring their favorite beverage and a dish to pass."

With more than 100 attendees, tables were set up throughout Farmwell Hall, each decorated to reflect the spirit of the season.

"I enjoy participating in the planning and production of get-togethers, especially at Ashby Ponds," says Beverlee McCartney.  "There are such talented people living here, and parties are such a fun way to hear their stories."

Convenient Catering Services

Whether it's a large-scale party or an intimate gathering, residents of Ashby Ponds have access to in-house catering services.

With more than 11 years of experience at Ashby Ponds, Pamela Cresine serves as the Catering Events Coordinator.  She is part of a dedicated team that provides "a one-stop shopping experience" for residents looking to throw a party or host an event.

"We take a hands-on approach to work with each resident to customize their event.  Based on the number of guests, we'll find the appropriate venue that matches the occasion.  It could be a private dining room or even their apartment home," says Ms. Cresine.

In fact, Ashby Ponds has a plethora of versatile, thoughtfully designed spaces to host special events.  Venues include private dining rooms, classrooms, Farmwell Hall, restaurants and pubs.  

"We also discuss their family traditions so we can create those small touches to make the holidays special," describes Ms. Cresine.  "This year alone, we've included a special Yorkshire pudding recipe for a dessert, created a lovely Passover meal and helped a resident with a Thanksgiving dinner for 35 relatives and friends on Black Friday."

"It's a very rewarding for all of us when the resident and their loved ones enjoy a wonderful experience during the holidays and throughout the year," states Ms. Cresine.

About Ashby Ponds: Ashby Ponds, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia.  The not-for-profit community of more than 1,475 residents and 550 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Ashby Ponds.  Additional information can be found at