by Angela Bernhardt, Director of Major Gifts

I’m so pleased to join Hammer Residences as the Director of Major Gifts, a newly-created position in the Development department. As a life-long resident of the Wayzata community and a member of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, I’ve been familiar with Hammer all of my life. When I saw a post on Hammer’s Facebook page advertising this position, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more. I have been in fund development since 2005 (to name a few, working at the Guthrie Theater, Park Nicollet Foundation and Allina Health), and had been taking classes at Hamline in the Master’s in Nonprofit Management program. Being at Hammer has allowed me to blend my professional goals and personal passions. I have been inspired by everyone’s dedication to the mission of Hammer: to provide adults and children with developmental disabilities the opportunity to experience life to the fullest.

Amy Gardner and her parents pictured with her 2013 Wilma Rudolph Courage Award she received for bringing adapted sports to her school.

Amy Gardner and her parents pictured with her 2013 Wilma Rudolph Courage Award she received for bringing adapted sports to her school.

It is an honor to meet the individuals and families whose lives have been changed because of Hammer, and who have changed the way we as a society view those with disabilities. I’m thankful to have met Amy Gardner, who brought adapted sports to her school; the parents of Kerry Houston who, after having difficulty maintaining employment, received Lifeworks Personal Achievement Award for her work at Unitron Hearing; Kayla Ebert who receives in-home services and often stops by the Hammer offices before singing at Wayzata Free Church; James McKune who spends one day a week in Hammer’s main office lobby offering compliments to all; Tim Aaser who, with his wife Wanda, cooks a Christmas Eve meal for the residents and staff at the Cedarwood House; and countless others who bring a smile to my heart.

At Hammer we’ve recently seen a steady decline in government funding, a trend we fully expect to continue. We are no longer able to do our work without increased financial help from individuals, foundations and corporations. It used to be that Hammer’s fundraising provided the “icing on the cake,” the little extras that make life so much more enjoyable for everyone. But now, in 2013, we have a gap between what is provided by the government to do our work, and what we need to support those served by Hammer, to the tune of $830,000 or $2,283.97 per day.

Here I am at our Reach for Ralph summer benefit where $165,000 was raised to provide those with developmental disabilities the opportunity to experience life to its fullest.

Here I am at our Reach for Ralph summer benefit where $165,000 was raised to provide those with developmental disabilities the opportunity to experience life to its fullest.

So, my job as the Director of Major Gifts is to first and foremost, visit with and thank our current donors, many of whom have been so supportive for many, many years. Did you know that there are 21 members of the Consecutive Giving Society at Hammer that have contributed for 15 or more consecutive years?! It is because of the long-term support of so many that Hammer has the well-earned reputation of being the gold standard in providing care for those with developmental disabilities. However, given the funding gap, there are opportunities for new or increased giving and investing in the mission of Hammer through monthly giving, annual giving, planned gifts and transformational gifts.

As said best by John F. Kennedy, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” And now, more than ever, those served by Hammer need financial support from everyone in the Hammer community. Every dollar received makes a difference in the lives of those we serve with developmental disabilities. I look forward to meeting more of you and welcome you to contact me at 952-345-8519 or angela@hammer.org. On behalf of all of those we serve, thank you.