By Ellen Timmerman-Borer, Chief Development Officer

So many years of Hammer (35 to be exact!) and I wonder why I am so fortunate to be in this place for so long, feeling satisfied and humbled with our work. Then, a poignant reminder of the why emerges in an unexpected place. 

At Reach for Ralph, our annual fundraiser in July, after the frenetic pace of event planning and implementation, the real reason we are together doing this work appeared when I least expected it.

You see, Daniel and Ali, their caregivers and families were supposed to be featured during the live program in front of 400 guests. Their tender story of friendship was the focus of our fundraising efforts. Although we did our best to make this happen, something else was going on. Our mission in action. And I was privileged to witness it.

Little did I know, Daniel’s idea of a night out is pizza (not on the menu at Reach for Ralph), music, and going to bed early to rest up for the next day’s activities. Daniel really likes his routine. He also loves to listen to music, look at books, and spend time together with his housemates at his Hammer home.

Sometimes a change of routine can make Daniel very anxious. When he was invited to be our guest at Reach for Ralph, his caregivers anticipated he may not be happy about the interruption of his nightly routine. However, they gave Daniel the choice and together they gave it a try.

Ashley Emerson, Daniel’s caregiver, anticipated Daniel may not do well in a new situation, with new noises, a strange place, and a large crowd of people. For a few weeks before the event, they talked about what Daniel would experience and tried to prepare him for this new situation. But, when Daniel arrived and he decided it was not a good fit and he was not comfortable, Ashley just rolled with it.

Instead of dinner, Daniel and Ashley sat together in the foyer of the event center, eating snacks and reading Daniel’s favorite book. Being an intuitive and person-centered caregiver, Ashley made sure Daniel was comfortable as the event was in-progress. Ashley knew Daniel needed support and understanding at that time, and she supported him in the moment.

So that’s it, the reason I’m here. Because every once in a while I get to witness why we all work together, to understand and support each other. Thank you, Ashley and Daniel, for another wonderful Hammer lesson.