Each of our Hammer & NER homes is unique because of the people who live and work there. Each month we will “showcase” one of our homes (or apartment programs) and celebrate the people who live there and the staff who support them. In this edition, we would like to introduce you to the people supported at our Emery home and the staff who support them.
The Emery home in Minnetonka is home to four young adults under the age of 30. Emery was first licensed at Hammer in 2008 as a children’s group home. Once the individuals reached adulthood, it was decided to continue as an adult group home. This was, in part, due to the strong friendships that they had developed over the years.
Let’s meet the people who live at Emery!
Gina is known as the “princess” of the house, because she loves receiving attention from staff. The staff says she is a sweetheart and is always smiling. Gina is very outgoing and has the type of personality that is easy to get along with. She’s fun to be around. Gina loves to spend time in the sensory room at Emery, especially to watch the movie “Frozen” or cooking shows. She also loves to swim and would pretty much swim every day if given the chance.
Daniel is the happy, music loving guy in the house. He enjoys listening to music on his iPad and spinning around or swinging. He loves to build relationships with people who are kind and laugh with him, and once he gets to know you, he forms a strong bond and will want to know when you are coming back. He loves being outdoors, going to amusement parks, outdoor concerts, dances, and splash pads. Daniel will not go anywhere without his “twiddles” (very specific shaped hangers that are his sensory toys).
Sam is a big fan of snacks and YouTube! If you give him a packet of ramen or a beef stick, you’ll be his friend for life. He’s a fan of going for rides in the van, which was a popular way to pass time during COVID lockdowns when staff weren’t able to take the Emery group to their usual favorite places. Sam is known as a quiet guy, but he is sure to let staff know what he wants when it comes to food or what he wants to wear. Sam loves watching clips from old Disney movies on repeat; his favorite is the Jungle Book.
Nick is the newest addition to the Emery family, having moved in three years ago at the beginning of COVID. He adapted well and formed an instant connection with the group. He uses an AAC device called a Nova Chat to communicate with staff. Nick likes to watch Wii Wheel of Fortune on his iPad and has the best laugh when he thinks something is funny. He enjoys a relaxing outing at the pool hot tub. Nick also loves going for walks and is always happy if an outing involves a stop for ice cream!
Brittney Severson is the home’s Program Manager. She has worked with Hammer for 5 years. “I would say to be successful here, you need to be perceptive, engaging, and kind,” she says. “Our superpower here at Emery is to be resilient. We grow through those moments that are difficult.” Brittney has noticed some diverse characteristics of Emery, as compared to other Hammer homes, that can sometimes result in new or support staff being timid to relate to the individuals. She chalks most of that nervousness up to the unique communication styles in the home. “I think it’s important to just come in with the sense that you’re being invited into their home,” Brittney says. “We are welcoming you here.”
Rebecca Temu, a DSP at the Emery home, mentions the biggest quality for success a DSP needs for working there. “You need to be patient and engaged,” Rebecca says. “It’s a great house. Every day I learn to be a better me.”
The staff at Emery are always searching for ways to be creative and keep engaging the four young adults who live there. At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, with so much time being spent at home, Brittney led the charge to convert a storage room in the basement into a sensory room. “Visual stimulation is so important,” Brittney says. “We have a big screen TV, and we can use it as a theater, or we put up lights (to help with the sensory experience) and view other videos they all enjoy. We also have dance parties in there.”
The staff at Emery works hard to maintain close relationships with the family members of the individuals who live there. “It’s so valuable to learn their history,” Brittney says, “to learn what types of support they’ve received in the past. Where they have grown. Where could they still grow? They still have things they can work on toward their independence, and that’s been a lot of fun.”
Daniel’s Dad, Gene, comes to hang out with Daniel frequently and loves the care he sees his son receiving. “It’s been a blessing beyond blessings,” Gene says. “Hammer gets quality staff and trains them, educates them. There’s a mission involved with this that goes right to the core.”
Emery has had a variety of volunteers visit the home over the years, and there is always a desire for more. Potential volunteers could help take the young adults on larger group outings with staff in the community and also just be a friend and do fun things with them at the home. It’s pretty evident within a few minutes of stepping into the Emery home just how close the staff and Gina, Sam, Daniel, and Nick are. The house is always abuzz with movement, laughter, and smiles.
“There are no real words for the joy that you feel when you get to come and be invited into their home every day,” Brittney says. “Making a difference in people’s lives and helping them achieve their goals. It’s adding value, and it’s really special.”
Let’s meet the staff!
The Emery management team also includes Program Director Ken Harper, and Catherine Muchoki, nurse. Here is the Emery team, who are all Direct Support Professionals unless otherwise noted:
Alterlene Capehart-15 years
Cyrus McGee-8 months
Emmanuel Kinama (Lead Direct Support Professional)-2 years
Jisela Jensen-3 months
Kossi Amedome-15.5 years
Rebecca Temu-2.5 years
Thank you to our Emery home staff for everything you do to help the people we support live life to the fullest.