Meet One of Our Big-hearted Volunteers
Sharla Duerre adopted a Hammer home!
During the pandemic, when everything was shut down, I was missing my volunteer involvement—the connections and relationships. “I had seen this group of guys walking occasionally, just down the street from me and I found out they were from Hammer’s Nelson Place home which is in my neighborhood. My daughter is supported by Hammer, so I was already familiar with the organization. I wanted to meet these guys. We got acquainted and I began going on weekly “walk and chat” sessions with them. I had wanted an opportunity to use my knowledge of folks with different abilities and communication styles. Nelson Place seemed like the perfect opportunity and now I call them my family.
Every week when we get together, I learn something new about the guys. I love sharing time with them. They direct our activities and decide what we’re going to do. There’s a school with a sledding hill nearby where we’ve enjoyed going sledding together. We’ve gone to the mall. We rode on the Ferris wheel at Scheels. We do game nights at Nelson Place. We’ve gone out to dinner. They never forget if they mention something they’d like to do–they remind me. My life is enriched by their gratitude and happiness. They make me laugh and are keeping me in shape!
What advice do I have for someone who’s thinking about volunteering at Hammer? Sometimes people are hesitant to meet people with differing abilities. Let them lead you and I think it will happen naturally and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. My onboarding as a Hammer volunteer was very well organized. My introduction to the Nelson Place home and the men I’m working with was very thorough. They provide any support I need. Brenda, the program manager, is phenomenal. She makes my involvement very smooth.
I’m truly grateful to Hammer for all the support they’ve provided to my family over the years. I wanted to support an organization that was very important and significant to me personally.