By Tim Eshelman, Director of Environmental Services
As Hammer’s Director of Environmental Services for many years, a lot has changed since I started in 1990. As I have grown older (and wiser!) so have the individuals served and supported by Hammer – and their Hammer homes.
Keeping our 36 group homes safe and secure to meet the changing needs of those we serve is my full-time job and my passion. My team of Kevin Byrnes, Greg Spah and Gordy Peters and I can get the smaller maintenance and upkeep jobs done on our own. But for the bigger jobs, we rely on contractors. Some of the contractors have been doing work at Hammer since before I started and are generous supporters in our community that make it all possible.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program at Hennepin County is one of our newer partners and supporters. Beginning in 1974, the CDBG program is the longest continuously run program at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The CDBG program provides funds to the most vulnerable in our communities, including homes for people with special needs, like those served at Hammer. We’ve been receiving CDBG funds from the City of Plymouth’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority for many years, but it’s been just the past couple of years that we’ve started to receive funding from Hennepin County.
Receiving funding from Hennepin County CDBG requires the support of the community. For our most recent request for funding, the City Council of Wayzata provided a resolution of support, signed by Mayor Ken Willcox and Jeff Dahl, and the City Manager. Once our request was approved by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, we were able to get to work!
We had requested $12,000 for one of our group homes in Wayzata that we call Ridgeview. Home to six men who have been supported by Hammer for an average of 25 years, we’ve owned and operated this group home since 1999. The home needed improvements to the exterior and interior to improve the quality of life for the men and their caregivers. Projects included removing the carpet in the common areas and replacing it with vinyl flooring to accommodate individuals who are aging and experiencing decreased mobility, and repairing the upstairs bathroom’s vanity and counter top.
As you can see from the photos, the results were spectacular! The flooring is actually vinyl planks, which look like wood, and are incredibly durable and easy to clean. The new vanity and sinks allow two individuals to get ready in the morning, provide ample storage underneath, and are easier to clean than the original tile top. The men and their caregivers take pride in their home and knowing that they are valued members of the community.
At Hammer, we are pleased to have over 1,000 financial supporters that make our work possible. In 2018, a total of $1,348,220 was donated by individual donors, businesses and foundations to support the work at Hammer, with $167,694 donated specifically for home improvements, and $874,211 being undesignated dollars to meet our greatest needs.
In addition to CDBG funds received, Hammer has appreciated the support of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation in support of Home for a Lifetime, providing funds to meet the changing needs of individuals served by Hammer to allow them to remain in their homes and age in place.
We simply could not do our work, and those we serve could not live full and meaningful lives, without this much needed financial support.