Meet one of our fabulous volunteers!
Victor Sugumar loves to travel, so when he learned about Hammer Travel, he knew he had found a great way to volunteer. “I’m very hands on and it’s one way I can work with individuals,” he says. “Every trip offers something unique.” He tells about a recent trip to Disneyland, when the group got stuck in the dark on Space Mountain. Other experiences have left a more serious lasting impact on Victor. “We took a group on a cruise to Alaska, and as we were looking at a glacier, I turned to look at the faces of those who had been waiting for this for a year—it was like, ‘wow, we’re really here!’” he says. “To be able to help make that happen makes you feel good, and it also humbles you.”
Victor says it’s the little things in life that can make a huge impact. “In the busyness of life, we don’t often stop to think about what others might need. Volunteering with Hammer Travel makes you to think about what you can do for others—what do they want to see, to experience? You make sure everyone gets what they want out of a trip.”
In addition to his volunteer work with Hammer Travel, Victor and his family are Special Events volunteers. “We like to help at the Family Day Picnic and Reach for Ralph,” he says. Victor’s wife, Anita, works in Hammer’s finance department. “She’s how I came to know about Hammer,” he says. “And the mission drew me in.”
In 2018, Victor was invited to join Hammer’s Board of Directors. “Being on the Board and being able to volunteer with Hammer Travel on the side allows me to bring that perspective and those experiences into the Board meeting—it helps us to be rooted in the mission.” Volunteering with Hammer has helped Victor appreciate things he might otherwise take for granted. “We need to pause to see what’s going on in the world,” he says.
What would Victor say to someone who is considering volunteering with Hammer? “I had never worked with people with developmental disabilities,” he says. “I just jumped in. Hammer has been doing this for a very long time. They make it easy. Try volunteering at an event. You don’t have to lead anything. When you see the smile on someone’s face, that will motivate you. What is it that you have that you can contribute? Maybe it’s sharing a love of music, or cooking. Hammer will find someone who also wants to do something with you. Just go for it.”
Since becoming a volunteer in 2016, Victor has logged 730 service (volunteer) hours as a Hammer Travel and Special Events volunteer. He’s also provided direct service support to some of the individuals Hammer supports.