ARRM Cares Award Winner Honored at Statewide Conference

Contact: Barbara Brandt
Director of Communication

John Estrem and Alex Kritz

John Estrem (L) CEO of Hammer and Alex Kritz (R) 2016 ARRM Cares Award Winner

DULUTH, MINNESOTA – Hammer celebrated the efforts of Alex Kriz, Welcome Place Assistant Manager (specializing in Recreation), at last week’s ARRM Conference.  Alex was selected as an ARRM Cares Award winner, an award given to direct support professionals (DSPs) who have been nominated by their organizations as standout performers.  There were 6 winners from all over Minnesota.  Alex was surrounded by family and coworkers at the ceremony and did an excellent job speaking and representing Hammer. Read Alex’s Story

The ARRM Cares Award is a Minnesota state-wide award, and the winners are chosen based on their professional integrity, innovation in the workplace, and person-centered approach to services. Each organization affiliated with ARRM is allowed to nominate a limited number of direct support professionals each year, with 103 total nominees in 2016. As part of the criteria, each nominee must perform direct care as at least 75% of their job duties.

Alex is one of 6 people recognized as award winners. He is an Assistant Program Manager and DSP at Welcome Place, one of Hammer’s group homes. He was hired to specialize in recreation and keeping the people Hammer supports, active and thriving within the community.

“Alex is our recreation rock-star,” announced his program manager, Erin McChesney. In her nomination, Erin explains how Alex was able to find new activities for one of the people we support who suffers from depression, such as volunteering and music therapy. He has also found local opportunities for the two people in his house who enjoy music. Alex takes them to concerts at the major Twin Cities venues and works through any accessibility challenges that may arise.

Although thankful for the recognition, Alex was quick to point out that he is rewarded daily in his work by the people he supports. “There is no greater reward than seeing someone experience something new and exciting for the first time. Being able to bring forth a smile is the ultimate gift,” said Alex.

About Hammer Residences, Inc. Since opening its doors in 1923, Hammer has helped thousands of adults and children with intellectual disabilities experience life to its fullest. Founder Alvina Hammer believed that individuals with disabilities had the right to lead full lives in a loving atmosphere where they would feel secure and develop self-confidence. Hammer was one of only two Minnesota organizations at that time to offer people with disabilities the opportunity to thrive in a school and home setting. Today, Hammer Residences, Inc. provides residential and customized support services, including In-Home Support; Support Planning; Case Management; and Healthcare Coordination (SNBC) to more than 1,400 people throughout the state. To learn more about Hammer visit

About ARRM: ARRM is a non-profit association that is dedicated to leading the advancement of community-based services that support people with disabilities in their pursuit of safe and meaningful lives. Each year, they recognize outstanding Minnesota DSPs as ARRM Cares Award winners at their annual conference. To learn more visit

Read Alex’s Story

ARRM Award Winners 2016

Award winners at the ARRM Cares Conference 2016

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