By Lindsay Grome, Hammer Volunteer & Account Supervisor at Weber Shandwick

Giving back.

It’s one of those things we all hear we should be doing, and deep down many of us truly want to do. However, it can be hard to choose a cause.

You have to ask yourself:

1) What do I care about?

2) What do I want to be doing in my spare time?

3) What brings me fulfillment?

What’s even harder is once you find that cause, sticking with it.

As a volunteer at various organizations throughout the past decade or so, for me the reason I do it has always been about the connection I’ve felt with the people I’m volunteering with.

imageBut Hammer changed the game for me. The connection I feel to both the residents I’ve volunteered with and to the organization itself is a whole new experience that, for fear of sounding cliché, has changed my life.

I first heard about Hammer at a volunteer fair, of all places, when I had just moved to Minnesota. In college I’d volunteered with disabled persons at Passion Works Studio in Athens, Ohio, a small Appalachian town home to Ohio University. I would stop in, clean old newspaper metal and watch the inspiration flow through the hands of true artists – who happened to be paralyzed in a wheelchair or have a cognitive disability – yet far sharper than I could ever be with an artistic mind expressed through a paintbrush.

It was at that point I knew I had found a cause I cared about #1: Check.

When I moved on to my first job out of college, I began volunteering again in my spare time at Opportunity Enterprises located in Valparaiso, IN. Opportunity Enterprises, like Hammer, is dedicated to helping people with disabilities live enriching lives. There I found joy once again being around such an inspiring environment. #2: Check.

imageThese wonderful, inspirational experiences are what motivated me to actually seek out an organization serving people with disabilities. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect fit.

Despite the fact that I spent several evenings a month volunteering as an exercise partner to one amazing, funny, caring woman in particular…then a few more nights as a softball coach, communications committee member, marketing member for the Reach for Ralph gala (see how they just stick with you!)…what has stuck with me about Hammer, and keeps me coming back, has been their true appreciation of everyone they come in contact with.

From the individuals Hammer serves to the program managers, to staff at the central office, to the families and the volunteers – all of them, every single one – truly cares. They care about the people. They care about the mission. And that shows – verbally and through the lovely collection of watercolor cards designed by those Hammer supports sent to my house just to say “thanks.” Hammer is really the one I should be thanking.

Tony at Weber ShandwickMy relationship with Hammer has recently evolved to a whole new level, as I’m now the lucky one who gets to work with Hammer and its “lean and mean” communications team. In my professional life, I work in public relations at Weber Shandwick, a global public relations agency. Hammer was chosen as the Minneapolis office of Weber Shandwick’s pro bono client of 2015, which means I get to help tell Hammer’s stories to the Twin Cities and beyond. With this year marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we have a lot of ideas and a lot of great stories to tell. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

Hammer brings me fulfillment and I simply can’t wait to share their inspiring stories. Fulfillment: Check.