We wish to congratulate and celebrate two of our long-time volunteers, Marshall and Dru Anderson, as they retire from over 20 years of volunteer service with Hammer Residences.
The Andersons say it was Hammer’s former CEO, Tim Nelson, who recruited them as volunteers. Marshall’s son (Dru’s stepson), Michael, lives at Hammer’s Broadway home. Marshall, and Michael’s mother, Mary, moved Michael to Hammer when he was 23 years old. Prior to that, he lived at home with them. Dru and Marshall married in 2000 and she joined him in volunteering for Hammer and the Broadway home.
“It was very exciting for me because I already loved Michael and I loved what I saw going on at Hammer,” Dru says. “Probably one of the reasons I loved Marshall was because I saw how involved he was with Michael.”
Marshall served on the Board of Directors for a number of years, including serving as Board president. Dru has a background in human resources and served on Hammer’s personnel committee.
Michael is now 58 years old. Over the years, the Andersons have volunteered in many ways, including helping with fundraising events. “One of the early projects that we got into was the Ralph statues,” says Dru. “We went around and sold them to businesses or anybody who wanted one. They could paint them the way they wanted. It was a big project. We had one in front of our house for years, and then we donated it back to Hammer where it’s been used at various events.”
Marshall and Dru have also enjoyed Hammer’s Family Day picnics. “We were very involved with setting up, serving, working at one of the booths, running the games, whatever was needed,” Dru says. “Those family picnics are some of my favorite memories as volunteers. We always had music, and watching the residents get out there and dance and enjoy it so much and their big smiles—that really kept you wanting to be involved.”
The Anderson family (including Michael’s two sisters) have also helped with fall cleanup. “Our family would all volunteer to work at Broadway home,” Dru says. “We would take bagels and then we would wash the windows, rake leaves, and clean inside the house.”
The couple was also active with James J. Hill Days, helping with activities, selling greeting cards created by individuals served by Hammer, and helping people get to know about Hammer and the work it does. Over the years, the couple also attended Day on the Hill, traveling to the State Capitol to talk with legislators, or calling and sending emails to raise awareness about the needs of people living with developmental disabilities. Other times, Dru volunteered at Hammer’s Central Office to lend an extra set of hands in stuffing envelopes or wherever there was a need for some extra help.
[Before the coronavirus] “There was a time when the staff at Mike’s house would host Christmas parties for the guys and they would invite all the families,” Dru says. “We joined with the other parents and all of us contributed to a meal.” Other times Marshall and Dru take a meal for Michael and his housemates to enjoy. “When we go for a visit, I make sure I take cookies or bars or something like that for the house,” Dru adds.
The Andersons have also started a new holiday tradition. “We wrote a letter to dear family and friends, with whom we used to typically exchange Christmas gifts,” Dru says. “We told them that we were no longer doing that, but that we would contribute extra money to Hammer and we invited them to do the same.”
Marshall and Dru say their new goal is helping as much as they can with Broadway house and donating what they can. “Physically, we are getting older, Dru says. “I am now 80 and Marshall is 86. We can’t give millions of dollars, but we give (millions of) hours of love and encourage other people to do the same.”
What advice do the Andersons have for others who are considering volunteering with Hammer? “I know that with COVID-19 things are so different, but if you can come to an event and see how people interact with one another and how it affects people’s lives, you will fall in love with it,” Dru says. “Seeing the residents out there enjoying life and helping to make opportunities for them to live life to the fullest, it’s a thrill.”
Thank you to Marshall and Dru Anderson for the more than 20 years you have actively volunteered, donated, and given so much of yourselves to Hammer Residences and our Broadway home. Your generosity has made an incredible difference in the lives of those we serve.