54 years ago, my baby Murray was born. He was a big boy, my bundle of joy. Murray looked like a typical kid but for some reason he was slow in meeting milestones. Why wasn’t he talking? Why wasn’t he doing the things that all the other boys could do? The doctors didn’t know why – though one suggested that if I got my life together, Murray would be fine, as if somehow, I was to blame. I thought I was doing everything right. I enrolled Murray in pre-school, and I attended parenting classes.
But I knew something was wrong…
Like you would do, I kept searching for answers.
Finally… at age five… it was discovered that Murray was having mini seizures. They were so brief, usually less than 15 seconds long, barely noticeable, but they affected Murray. After he was diagnosed with epilepsy, an IQ test determined that he also had developmental disabilities.
As you may imagine, this was a lot to handle.
Murray’s struggles were too difficult for me to handle on my own. With much worry and deliberation, I moved Murray to Northwoods Children’s Home in Duluth when he was eight years old. I lived nearby and visited often. It worked out for many years, but when Murray was 16 he had a health crisis that made me realize he needed a new home, a place that could manage his changing and complex medical needs.
Murray needed more help. My sister Fran had a good experience volunteering at Hammer when she was in high school. After researching all the options, I felt Hammer would be an excellent placement for Murray. So, in 1986, Murray moved into what was then the boy’s dorm at Hammer. He started classes at Wayzata High School with the other guys on his floor, and really began to blossom.
Today, 38 years later, Murray is living in a Hammer group home in Minnetonka with three housemates. I’m retired, living close by in a little apartment. Murray’s home was built, thanks to the generosity of Hammer family members and donors like you. Each individual’s needs were considered as their home was being built. This home is where they will be for the rest of their lives. Murray’s medical needs are taken care of by a devoted, well-trained staff team and the wonderful Hammer nurses.
Because of your financial commitment, Murray has a home and caregivers who help him live an active, full life.
Think about activities that bring you joy. They are probably not that much different than what Murray enjoys. It’s just that without your financial support, Murray is unable to be part of our community.
You see, Murray works but will never be able to earn enough to enjoy even the simple pleasures in life. Things you and I take for granted. Government funding provides Murray his basic needs: a place to call home, food, and caregivers. But when you think about it, isn’t there so much more to living?
When he tells me, “I’m going camping and catch fish,” I know that he is excited about the annual Hammer three-day fishing trip to Brainerd in June. This trip is the only time he gets to sleep in a bed that is not his own, the only chance he has to go on a vacation. This quick trip up north is everything to Murray, and something he talks about year-round.
And, you should see the big grin he has at Texa-Tonka Lanes when he joins Hammer’s Bowling League. Murray and his housemate enjoy being active with friends. Murray gets to be part of a larger community and it means the world to him. Bowling gives him the chance to excel (he’s a very good bowler!) and to work on his communication and social skills. Because otherwise, given his limited communication abilities, Murray tends to isolate himself. And as a mom, I worry he’s lonely.
Murray is only one of 370 individuals, with very limited resources who need your help. Will you please join me in making make a financial contribution to Hammer?
It’s only because of caring donors like you that Murray is able to live his life to the fullest.
Thank you for reading my story and thank you for considering my request. Please help Murray and everyone served by Hammer enjoy a life worth living.
Barb Lebowitz, Murray’s Mom