By Ann Martinka, Hammer Travel Customer Relations

My name is Ann Martinka and I have been employed by Hammer Travel, for almost ten years. My husband Bob and I have three children and our middle child, Joy, was born with Down Syndrome.

Being the only girl, Joy was lucky enough to get her own room. As she aged, it transferred from an infant and toddler’s room to a young girl’s room. It was painted a Pepto Bismol pink! 

Joy says, “I like my room. It was pink. Pink is my favorite color!” 

Because Joy is the middle child, she watched her older brother graduate and head off to college. Joy was well aware of the next typical steps in life. She approached her high school graduation and next steps with such excitement and confidence. Joy’s next step was a transition program called TASSEL. She expected the full college experience with school colors and a ‘team’ name because all she knew at this point was the Wisconsin Badgers! We opted to call it TASSEL University and had a sweatshirt made to look like a college sweatshirt.  One of the biggest parts of going to college is living in the dorm and Joy wanted and expected that experience. We got to work and redid her room to look like a typical dorm room, with a lofted bed, desk, TV, and beer fridge! She was a true college student!

Joy excitedly exclaims, “I have a TV and a desk. I can write and eat at my desk. I have a refrigerator and have juice boxes and ketchup in there. My bed is up high, and I have a couch to sit on.”

During her time at TASSEL University, Joy’s older brother moved into his own apartment and that fed into Joy’s excitement about her own apartment. She has been working on learning independent living skills such as washing clothes, light cooking, cleaning, and getting up on her own, so that someday she can live on her own. We made an appointment with Brian Kelly at Hammer to talk about what it means to live in a Hammer apartment and what Joy could look forward to when that time comes.  Brian talked with Joy about what it is like to live in a Hammer apartment and answered all of her questions, and mine!  Joy walked out of the Hammer office happy and believing that she would be moving into her own apartment very soon.

As her transition program ended, she began to look forward to moving out.  We would talk about ‘someday’ when she would live in an apartment of her own. As we all know ‘someday’ can mean a long time. In order to help her progress to that next step in life, we bought her a special gift for Christmas. 

Enter the doorbell. A doorbell was installed on the doorframe of her dorm room and it instantly became Joy’s apartment. She changed the sign on her door and informed all of us that we need to ring the doorbell if we want to talk with her.  

Joy states, “I can do everything in my room like exercise, make YouTube videos, eat, talk on FaceTime, whatever I want. I can change the music on my doorbell. Mom and Dad ring the doorbell if they want to talk to me”. 

Another step to independent living – check!

The next step is an actual apartment, Joy is more than ready. Now it is time for me to get ready!