A 70-Year Tradition Welcomes New Families & Friends
In September, Hammer Residences hosted our annual Family Day Picnic—the first one in three years—outside our Central Offices. This is a special day for the families and people we serve as well as our staff and their families to come together for some fun, hopefully a little sun, and lots of good food and music!
The Family Day Picnic has been an annual event going back to the 1950s when they were known as the “Hammer School Family Day Picnics.” They were held on the grounds of the Hammer School—a park-like setting, dotted with trees—which later became the Hammer parking lot. (The surroundings sure have changed!) Families brought their own picnic lunches, often in large wicker baskets (Hammer provided beverages and dessert). Searching the archives, we found photos of the young people square dancing. Families were invited to visit Hammer’s school classrooms as well as the dorms where their children lived.
Today, our east metro (NER) families, loved ones, and staff are also a key part of keeping the Family Day Picnic tradition going. This year, over 400 people came out to picnic with us. According to our Director of Volunteer Resources, Cathy Thoma, it takes about 50 volunteers to help things run smoothly. Volunteers help with managing the buffet line, organizing games, doing face painting, helping with administrative tasks, and more. We couldn’t do it without them!
Hammer’s Chief Program Officer, Sue Walker, recently reminisced about the picnic. “The picnic has certainly changed with the times,” she says. “I love to see pictures from the very early years when people wore dresses and suits as ‘proper’ picnic attire. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, I remember hand churning ice cream for everyone. Now we have incorporated games and activities put together by our Community Life team, and the dancing and music is such a fun part of it as well. Through all these years, this event is a tradition that represents us as a family. It’s really a blessing.”
We hope that another 70 years from now, families and staff will look back on photos from today and reminisce on the traditions we uphold and create. Surely, one thing that has not changed since Alvina Hammer first opened our doors in 1923 is our dedication to providing the homes and services the people we serve rely on to live their best lives.