By Angela Bernhardt, Director of Major Gifts

One of my favorite things about working at Hammer is the people. Honestly, the best people work at Hammer! In my role in the development department, I often share stories of those we serve and their caregivers.

In typical Hammer fashion, the people who do the work at Hammer are often very modest. They don’t like attention, and they certainly don’t do the work for fame, fortune or glory. But some people’s stories just need to be shared, like the one I heard about Brenda Barthel.

Brenda started working at Hammer over 13 years ago. Currently she is the manager of two group homes, which is a lot of responsibility. But in addition to that, she picks up a shift once a week at a group home in Wayzata because she loves the individuals, the care team, and the families.

She was working her weekly shift this spring when the test results came in: there was COVID-19 in the house.

Brenda knew instantly that she would stay put. She was going to stay at the group home for the two-week quarantine period, until everyone was COVID free. Now remember, Brenda manages two other group homes, and has her own family at home. But she knew she had assembled a great team at her homes, and her family would make their own personal sacrifices for her to stay at work.

Those two weeks were intense she says, which may be a bit of an understatement, part of that natural modesty so often found at Hammer! This was early on, when COVID was just starting to be diagnosed.  There were a lot of unknowns about the virus and it was at times, scary to be doing the work. Brenda spent those two weeks keeping the individuals served safe and feeling secure, while encouraging them to stay in their rooms at all times. She was busy keeping the house clean, wiping down surfaces again and again, while keeping families, including her own, calm.

When I think about DSP Appreciation Week, I think about Brenda, and all the other caregivers at Hammer quietly doing their work. They make a difference in the lives of those served, and for that, I am eternally grateful.