Our History

Scroll down to read about Ralph

In 1923, founder Alvina Hammer opened our doors because she believed that individuals with disabilities have the right to live in a loving home environment where they could flourish, developing independence and self-confidence. We have compassionately cared for adults and children with developmental disabilities for over 98 years.

Our mission remains true to her vision: provide adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live life to its fullest. In her memory, our volunteers, board members and families advocate for legislation to ensure the health and well-being of all people with developmental disabilities.

Hammer has adapted to change and changed with the times, always focused on meeting the needs of the people we serve. With support from staff, volunteers, donors, and families, the people who live in our homes and apartments are given the opportunity live their lives to the fullest.

Ralph was a lovable boy who had a disability few people understood in the 1920s. Most people believed Ralph should be placed in an institution, but his sister, Judy Lindh, decided otherwise. She brought Ralph from Wildrose, North Dakota to Minneapolis and enrolled him in the Hammer School, located near the intersection of Humboldt Avenue and Lake Street at the time.

Unlike the rest of the world, Alvina Hammer believed Ralph deserved to live in a loving environment, a home setting with a school that would focus on his abilities. Ralph and his family trusted Alvina. Ralph helped Alvina move to the Wayzata location in 1932. He loved to bowl, play the organ, work in the garden, spend his leisure time fishing, among other things. He also won medals in the Special Olympics. Most importantly, each day Ralph raised and lowered the American flag at the Hammer school. Ralph lived a full life supported by Hammer until he passed away in 1995.