Let Us Give Thanks … And Eat Pie

By Jan Hopper, Program Manager

Jan has known David for almost 25 years.

Jan has known David for almost 25 years.

Every night, before I go to sleep, I count my blessings. I think there might be a song in there somewhere?  Generally, the list includes my good health, good friends and working with people who make me laugh out loud every day. This simple, routine act truly helps me sleep better.


Jan and Deb after speaking at a Hammer meeting in the early 2000's.

Jan and Deb after speaking at a Hammer meeting in the early 2000’s.

This time of year the list includes Hammer Thanksgiving and all the people who make it possible. Back in 2003 a group of managers were at a meeting and got to talking about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. As the conversation went on, we all realized we had individuals we serve, who for one reason or another, weren’t going to a family celebration. For some they simply had no family left to go to, and for others, their family lived too far away. Something needed to be done.

We decided that one big dinner would be more festive than several small ones. So, we loosely put together a potluck style Thanksgiving dinner that was held in the lower level of our central office. It wasn’t very organized, and we made a few last minute trips to the only convenience store open that day. I learned that mushroom soup will stretch gravy, for instance! Even so, we had a blast and everything tasted great.

Jan enjoying time at the MN State Fair with some of the individuals she supports.

Jan at the MN State Fair with individuals she supports.

The word got out and the next year it was opened to everybody living and working at Hammer. Year after year it grew, and many wonderful volunteers started making it a family tradition to spend their Thanksgiving morning peeling potatoes, roasting turkeys (I think we’re up to eight by now), making the yummy sides and then serving it up to the staff and individuals who attend. In fact, one family has kept this tradition so long that their children don’t know Thanksgiving any other way. Luckily, there are always enough leftovers to bring back home for supper. I mean, really, what is Thanksgiving without left overs? Since each home brings a pie we also get quite an assortment of desserts to really top off that food coma.

Our company is often referred to as a family, and I think Hammer Thanksgiving might be the biggest, happiest, most fun (read as drama free) family Thanksgiving ever. The lower level of the central office is packed with noisy, happy people. Diets are abandoned and much food is consumed.

My family lives far away so Hammer Thanksgiving is my Thanksgiving. I am thankful for all the people who make it possible. I am also thankful for the delicious food and the fun folks I work with everyday…Oh, and all the different pies, definitely the pies!

pies and turkey


  1. Suzanne

    I love this! Jan – your yearly contribution to this event is amazing. YOU are a Hammer blessing.

  2. Karen

    I love this Jan!

  3. Dan Pysno

    Thanks for sharing, Jan! Made me hungry.

  4. stefanie Miller

    Thanks for all the hard work you put into this Thanksgiving celebration:)

  5. Jim Landt

    Thanksgiving leftovers and pies-doesn’t get much better than that….except for loving and giving people like you who make the Thanksgiving holiday so special for those we serve. You’re the best! I’m thankful for all of you!

  6. brad f.

    Can anyone guess which one of the kids is a current Manager of a hammer home??
    From kid volunteer to Manager!!!

  7. Pete Schaffran

    Great article Jan!! Was blessed to have been part of this tradition for a few years as a volunteer!

  8. Julane

    Jan, you have such a big heart! Thank you for bringing the spirit of Thanksgiving home to Hammer.


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