By Katie Binning, Program Manager

I’ve always felt like I’ve grown up at Hammer. Lisbeth Armstrong (our Chief Program Officer) is a close friend of my parents. I was lucky enough to have her and her husband Mark heavily involved in my life. When “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” came along and sitting in my dad’s home office all day sounded boring as all heck, I went with Lisbeth to Hammer. I have fond memories of the old main building and getting to use typewriters with all different colors of paper. I typed up “words of wisdom” and put them in everyone’s mailboxes. I’m sure my seven-year-old self had a lot of wisdom to share.

Binnings and Lisbeth

Years went by and I became too old for “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.” So, I began volunteering at Hammer events and assisting the volunteer department with projects. After my first year at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Lisbeth encouraged me to apply at Hammer. There was a kid’s home opening and they would need daytime staff during summer. I spent those next 4 summers with the kids at Emery, and did a whole lot of growing up! I learned so much from my co-workers and the kids we were supporting.

UMDAfter graduating, I began working full-time at Hammer. I felt extremely lucky to have a job immediately after graduating. I was excited to keep learning and pursuing opportunities for leadership training. While my friends searched for work and tried to figure out what they wanted to do, I found myself repeating “you could always apply to Hammer, you know…”

My friends all know how much I love Hammer, and many of them have heard my “why I love Hammer and why you should work for them, too” speech more times than they’d like. Even so, amidst my repetitiveness I actually managed to convince some of my dearest friends to come to Hammer. I can’t begin to express how proud I am to see my friends learn and grow at Hammer and thankful to be able to share this experience with them.

Binning Collage 2Michael Smith, who used to fall asleep in class and beg to copy my notes in college, now manages our Southcrest and Wentworth homes. We continue to compete in the contest of “who is better at everything.” Sean Henderson and I studied abroad together during college. He now serves as Person Centered Technology Manager, one of Hammer’s newest positions, as well as being a Program Manager in Training at Knollway. Marko Kushnir, another friend from college, serves as an Assistant Program Manager at Broadmoor Apartments. Stephen Mueller, a childhood neighbor, serves the men and women at Plymouth Colony Apartments. Logan Willeck, my best friend’s little brother (which pretty much makes him my brother too), recently started at the Emery kid’s home. I had two other friends who worked at Hammer after college who have since gone on to pursue their dreams in other parts of the world.

What are we at now…seven? That’s a pretty good track record. So…have I mentioned you could always apply at Hammer? https://www.hammer.org/careers/