Each year, we present Community Partner Awards to individuals and organizations that have made a positive impact on the lives of those we serve, or whose efforts have greatly supported our work. Since 1993, we’ve recognized 70 nominees who serve as role models of compassion and service as well as helping to fulfill Hammer’s mission to provide individuals with developmental disabilities the opportunity to experience life to its fullest. (Pictured above are Kim Hoffman, left, and her family at our Spring Breakfast)
One of this year’s recipients is Kim Hoffman. Let’s meet her!
Kim Hoffman was looking for a way to give back to her community. One day her father called her with a suggestion. “He had been listening to NPR and they were talking about therapy dogs,” she says. “He loves Toby and thought that was maybe something we should do, but Toby’s more of a family dog and not a working therapy dog.” However, one day, a coworker mentioned that she was volunteering with her two dogs at a Hammer home. “I researched it and contacted them and that’s how it all happened,” Kim says.
Starting out, Toby was going to be a reading partner for Julia, at Hammer’s Lakeside home. “Julia really enjoyed reading to Toby,” Kim says. “It helped her gain confidence in her reading abilities and lessen her anxiety.” Kim and Julia also enjoyed going on short walks together with Toby and discovered a Little Free Library nearby. “Julia likes to take a book and leave a book,” Kim says.
Since retiring from Cargill, Kim and Toby have been visiting Lakeside once a week. Others at the house enjoy spending time with them, too “We’ve been taking regular walks with Jake for several years,” Kim says. “He and Julia take turns going first. Jake loves to talk about sports and movies, so I need to make sure I brush up on the latest.” If Jake is late getting home on the bus, Lucas will occasionally “sub in” for him. “Or we all just hang out together at the house,” Kim says. “Toby gets love from everyone. He’s very loving and calm. He doesn’t jump up on people, and he’s never met anyone that he thought wouldn’t adore him.” With the weather turning colder, Kim says they will start doing puzzles or coloring or reading books during their visits. “Toby will have a treat and lay down and take a nap and will zone out till our time is done,” Kim says.
Kim shares that she truly enjoys her time volunteering at the Lakeside home. “I appreciate the work of the Lakeside staff and how I’ve been able to work with them. They say hello to Toby and give him a pat. It’s nice going someplace that is so familiar and you’ve got good relationships formed. They make it easy to volunteer.”
Kim, thank you to you and Toby, for bringing so much light and happiness to the people we serve at Lakeside.
If you would like to learn about volunteer opportunities at Hammer Residences in the west metro, or at our partner organization, Northeast Residence, in the east metro, our Director of Volunteer Resources, Cathy Thoma, would love to chat with you. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 952-345-8554.