Connecting with Community–Backyards & Beyond

Connecting with Community–Backyards & Beyond

In honor of Hammer’s 100th anniversary and NER’s 50th anniversary, we have published Legacies, a special anniversary magazine, celebrating our history, the people we have supported, and those who have made our mission possible all these years. Here is one of the featured stories:

Over the years, NER has participated in a variety of community events (and hosted a few of our own!) that help to connect the people we support with their community. We’ve also helped them explore the world through exciting travel opportunities.

Walk Run Roll
We began holding this event in 2017 and wanted it to be a fundraiser, but we didn’t make a lot of money. The Walk Run Roll was held at Lake Phalen the first year. After the first year, it was an event for the people we supported and held at the Oakdale Nature Preserve. There was a short route and 5K route. It was a fun way to gather everyone together and we’d enjoy pizza afterward.

Halloween Extravaganza (formerly known as The Bonfire!)
When this started in the early 1990s, we had everyone from the long-term ICF come to my family’s house for a bonfire in the fall. Mark Cain (direct support staff) and Dusty Anderson, our maintenance person, were in a band together and they would entertain us. Gradually, it got too big to accommodate everyone, so the Arcade home in Maplewood began hosting a Halloween bonfire. We would all bring a dish to share and come in costume. Later, this became the Halloween Extravaganza, and we moved it to the NER offices (no longer a bonfire) and did that up until COVID-19. Then it became Trunk or Treat.

Manitou Days – Bed Races
Back in the late 1980s, a group of us would get together at our ICF home (at the convent) and fill 3,700 balloons with water—about 74 buckets’ worth. We got a moving truck to haul them to the event and then we would sell them, and people would lob them at the racers on the obstacle course. Later, when we moved out of the convent, we went to the 5th Street home to do the balloon “prep.” The people we supported could participate and many of the staff enjoyed helping. We got dressed up in costumes and painted our faces. One year, our Addams Family team won for best costumes! 

Joining the luau dancers in Tonga, 2012

The Joy of Travel
In 2006, we took a group to an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen (six people supported and five staff). This was the first time we were able to take people out of the country. We were so impressed by how gracious the people were. The wait staff were so good about helping us and the community really welcomed us. We visited the Mayan ruins which were incredible. We have also taken trips to Hawaii, Branson, Washington, D.C., Disney World, Jellystone, and the Kingdom of Tonga to name a few. We’ve enjoyed all our adventures and are so thankful to the staff and volunteers who made it a reality for the people we support.  

Whether it’s enjoying a bonfire in the backyard, engaging with our local community, or traveling to new places, NER has always valued creating opportunities to build the self-confidence and social connections of the people we support. It makes life all the richer and sweeter.

Lin Curran is Chief of Operations at NER.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *