By Brittney Severson, Program Manager

I’m curious, have you ever heard this from a friend, loved one, co-worker or supervisor, “let me know if you need anything”? I bet you have. Maybe during a difficult time in your life, someone reached out to you to let you know they are there to help…”if you need it.” Or, have you ever been that person or friend to say those words, “let me know if I can help”? I think this is all too common in our “Minnesota Nice” culture. We offer help willingly and respond to the offer with “you betcha, thanks,” and leave it at that. We either don’t think they are genuine, or, if we did, we would be too nice to actually take them up on it.

Brittney and one of the individuals she supports.

What I am here to suggest is that we change our outlook and take some action. If someone is offering you help, TAKE IT! Simple as that. Do not be ashamed and do not apologize. Likewise, if you are the one to offer help, do so in a genuine manner and don’t be shocked if someone actually takes you up on it. I’d also like to suggest that help should not be looked at in a negative light. Help is such a positive word that gets a bad rap. Help is encouragement, help is hands on, help is a listener, help is a mentor, help is training. Help helps people grow. Help – it’s not just a four-letter word.

Alright I know what you’re thinking: “okay Brittney, I get it, when someone asks to help me I should actually say yes.” YES! And, “how does this apply to my work at Hammer”? Well, I’ll tell you how and give you an example from my experience.

During my Hammer onboarding, I specifically recall a member of the training staff saying she had a goal to start coming to all of the programs to provide support at staff meetings. She expressed the hope to bridge the gap between programs and the main office, as well as build a connection to dive deeper into any topics the programs would like to discuss. I thought this was a great idea, so what did I do when I heard they were offering help? That’s right, I took action! I emailed the training team and invited them to our upcoming staff meeting. I shared with them that I had been researching the topic of person-centered support and power struggles between staff and individuals, and I would love to have their team come to facilitate a discussion around the topic.

The great thing about our Hammer training team is that they have many combined years of service and leadership at Hammer. They are down-to-earth women who have a vast number of stories in their pockets (some you can’t make up) that can be used to help illustrate a topic to us as staff. Plus, they come equipped to have some fun with their giant post-it notes and Sharpie markers. We welcomed their energy, leadership and discussion into our little piece of the Hammer family. The great thing about opening up in this way is that staff are allowed an opportunity to have a platform for open discussion. One in which we can all share ideas, strategies, knowledge and experience with each other. We may not solve all of the world’s problems in one meeting, but we were able to connect with each other toward our similar goal of supporting the independence of the individuals we support. We had a starting point of conversation that will and has grown into something fantastic.

What I hope this story imparts on you is encouragement to build a relationship with the wonderful training team at Hammer. You will not regret the connection you will make with them and the inevitable discussion that will hopefully help your teams and individuals to succeed.