Sarah’s Story–Hammer’s Caregivers Have Helped Her Feel at Home

Sarah’s Story–Hammer’s Caregivers Have Helped Her Feel at Home

By Kathy Ganzer, Sarah’s Mom

Sarah (left) with her roommates.

Hello, I’m the parent of a beautiful daughter, Sarah, who has found her second home at Hammer. While we’ve been part of the Hammer family for just over a year, it has already made an incredible difference in Sarah’s life. Hammer is a very special place and caregivers like Annie, Emily, Glenda, Julia, and Olu are its heart and soul.

Sarah is on the autism spectrum and has grown through many challenges that go along with that diagnosis. Since being at Hammer, I’ve seen so many changes in her. Her confidence has increased. She is happy. She exercises and is working on making healthy choices. Sarah has blossomed so much in the past year. Knowing she is so happy gives me tremendous peace of mind.

When she was 20, Sarah moved into a group home run by another provider. Unfortunately, there were constant staff changes and challenges with housemates and it became very apparent in 2019 that we needed to find her a new place to live. We needed a place where Sarah would be happy and safe and feel truly at home. I talked with a friend whose stepsister was living at a Hammer home. We were hopeful after hearing about her positive experience and all the amazing things Hammer has to offer. I reached out to Hammer in May of 2019. Because Hammer is known to have exceptional staffing and great care, we were aware that it may take a while to get her placed.

In March 2020, COVID-19 came along which, as we know, was challenging for everyone. Sarah had been working at MRCI, but the job went away, and she had to spend several weeks in lockdown in her room. During this time, staff became even tougher to keep and things at her group home went from bad to worse. I found myself in tears and feeling desperate to help my daughter. I was at a loss on where to turn. Then in June 2021, I received an email from Hammer saying they had a potential spot for Sarah at their Gardner home in Wayzata.

Sarah with Glenda, one of the wonderful DSPs at her Hammer home.

Sarah with her family at Reach for Ralph.

We visited the Gardner home to meet the housemates and staff (who turned out to be amazing!). Sarah began to mesh with the other ladies right away. She was beyond excited about the opportunities Hammer had to offer.

We could see right away that the staff are very person-centered. 

Sarah moved into her Hammer home in August 2021. She was so excited and quickly became a part of the Gardner family. Her new housemates called her their sister and the staff welcomed her with open arms.

Will you join me in investing in Hammer’s wonderful caregivers?  

Sarah strives to get out and about, make new friendships, and stay active in the community. She likes to play softball – with her housemates cheering her on. She also loves to go bowling and has done cheerleading at Northern Elite Adaptive Cheer since 2006.

Sarah really wants a job. It’s been difficult to make that happen since so many day programs have not reopened as a result of the pandemic. This means Sarah is home all day. She is on several employer waitlists, and we are hoping to find her a good fit for a job soon.

Our family has watched Sarah grow and mature so much within the last year, thanks to Hammer. Most importantly, she has gained confidence in herself and is truly happy! Hammer staff are interactive with Sarah. They join her in exercise and engage her in conversation (and countless games of UNO of which Sarah is a master!)

From day one, Sarah was made to feel included as part of her Gardner home. They are our family. It’s spectacular and unbelievable—I can’t even tell you. I tear up often when I talk about Hammer and this opportunity for Sarah and our family. It is so wonderful to have tears of joy instead of sadness.

Sarah has grown into such a beautiful young woman in the past year. She’s happy and shows such sensitivity and kindness and seems to be truly at peace within herself. We are fortunate to see Sarah often to spend quality time together. She loves when we take her out to dinner or go out on the boat. She is just as happy spending time at home doing a puzzle, organizing her collections of rocks or shells, or playing games. At the end of the day, Sarah is always ready to go to her Hammer home, and she is excited to see her Hammer family, too!

Knowing I am not going to be around forever, I find such peace that Sarah is in a really good place and I’m confident Hammer staff will always treat her with compassion and respect. It’s a relief not having to manage all the financial details as well. When Hammer said they would take care of Sarah’s appointments and manage her finances, we happily slid that folder across the table! I’ve been doing this forever and having that assistance has been so freeing. I feel I can trust where she is, trust the system, and trust the staff.

The reason Hammer remains so wonderful is due to the support of the community. It’s so important to provide adults with disabilities all the love and support they need so they can live life to the fullest. Hammer maintains great staff including management, dietitians, nurses, and round the clock caregivers, which is critical for people like Sarah.

Your gifts are so important to ensure that all the individuals Hammer serves receive the level of support they need to live their best lives. Will you please consider making a gift today? It will make a difference.

You can make a donation here: https://hammer.org/Fall-appeal-2022/

Thank you for reading our Hammer story—Sarah’s story.

Kathy Ganzer
Sarah’s Mom




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