By Elizabeth Muench and Nicole Dardis

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Muench

Elizabeth: My name is Elizabeth Muench and I’m a junior in the St. Kate’s University/University of St. Thomas joint social work program. I started interning at Hammer Residences in September 2018. As the school year is wrapping up, so is my time at Hammer. Before I’m done, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my experiences interning at this amazing organization.

I’ve been predominantly working in the advocacy department as an advocacy support specialist. This involves conducting research around the 7% Disability Services Rate Cut. Nicole (another intern) and I were a part of the Disability Services Day at the Capitol. My group met with Minnesota State Senator Melisa Franzen. An individual from Hammer shared their personal story about how the 7% cut is directly impacting them and Senator Franzen responded very well. I have also been attending the monthly advocacy committee meetings. I created a document to help people advocate effectively for the individuals at Hammer. The document included talking points that are important to mention to legislators when discussing the health and human services omnibus bill and the human services reform finance and policy omnibus bill. Furthermore, I’ve met with multiple people to discuss advocacy and what this looks like in social work practice.

In addition to my advocacy work, I have been directly interacting with some of the individuals who live at Hammer. I attend the Carlson day supports weekly and have been able to help take Hammer individuals on outings such as Harvest Moon, Big Thrill Factory, McDonald’s and the Minnetonka Art Center.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Hammer Residences and I’m sad it’s ending. However, I’m so grateful for all the valuable opportunities that have been offered to me, the incredible advice and supervision that has been provided and all the wonderful people that I’ve met during my time at Hammer. I’ll definitely bring my newfound knowledge into my future social work practice. Thank you for all that you do, Hammer!

Photo Courtesy of Nicole Dardis

Nicole: Hello, my name is Nicole Dardis and I am an advocacy intern at Hammer Residences. I started interning at Hammer in October 2018. I am a student in the social work program at St. Kate’s/University of St. Thomas.

While at Hammer, I have learned a lot about myself, the disability community, advocacy and healthcare policy. For example, I got to take part in the Disability Services Day at the Capitol. Members at Hammer were put into groups to help advocate for Best Life Alliance and 7% workforce cut to Minnesota legislators. In addition, I have also served as a member on the advocacy committee. I created and worked on documents to help people of the Hammer community advocate to legislators. I have met with people from ARRM and Hammer West to gain their perspective on advocacy and generalist social work practice. I shared my new learnings about healthcare policy with fellow social work students and advocated for Best Life Alliance to Minnesota legislators on Social Work Day at the Capitol. While learning at Hammer, I found that I am really passionate about healthcare policy. I am interested in healthcare policy work once I graduate. Before I started my internship, I never would have thought I would enjoy advocating policy; Hammer has shown me a whole new side of myself.             

Photo Courtesy of Nicole Dardis

Furthermore, I got to meet some of the individuals Hammer serves. I had the honor of spending some time at the Carlson day supports. I would participate in bowling on Mondays. I took part in some of the Hammer events to network with families and hear their stories about how Hammer has impacted their loved ones.

Unfortunately, my time at Hammer is coming to an end as an intern. However, Hammer has taught me a lifetime of skills for myself and for generalist social work practice. I would still like to seek out volunteer opportunities to stay connected with this amazing community! Lastly, thank you to all of those who help Hammer Residences, your work is noticed.