Our Legacies magazine is a special anniversary publication, celebrating our history, the people we have supported, and those who have made our mission possible all these years. Here is one of our stories, by Pam Janczewski, one of our Directors of Program Services. Pam joined Hammer Residences in 2006.
A career filled with sweet memories, growth, and challenges
In 2006, my husband and I were living in LaCrosse and he had a job opportunity in the Twin Cities. We decided to take the leap. I went online and searched for group home jobs. I had been working as a program manager and prior to that as a DSP in various communities. I applied to Hammer and was offered an interview, so I drove three hours to the Twin Cities, was interviewed, and left feeling hopeful. I got a phone call just as I returned home asking me to return the next day for a second interview as a co-manager at Plymouth Colony apartments. I drove three hours back to the Twin Cities and left with a job that was to start a few weeks later.
Within a few weeks of starting my new job, I felt the magic that this place exuded. I called my mom and raved about all the things I had learned and the great people I had encountered and was blessed to be working with. I told her I wanted to move Bryan (my brother) here. She laughed as that seemed like such a challenge. However, as time went on, I convinced her to move Bryan to Hammer from the group home in Green Bay. She moved first, in 2015, then we moved Bryan into Lee Avenue in August 2017. He has been so happy there.
Meanwhile, I began opening new apartment programs in Eden Prairie. First, Broadmoor (which became Renew), then Lake Place, and lastly Eden Place (now Arrive). My role was to get these programs developed, staffed, and up and running, then pass them off to another manager so I could start the next project. In 2016, I became a Program Director at Hammer.
In 2020, the world flipped upside down a bit with the pandemic, which brought new challenges as a mom trying to juggle schooling with three kids, being a Program Director, and spending time with Bryan. At the end of the year, the management team was made aware of the merger we were about to start with Northeast Residence (NER) in the east metro. This sounded exciting to me. I remember telling my supervisor, Sue Walker, to let me know if I could help with any projects related to the merger.
By July 2021, I was working full time at NER as the Director of Residential Services, continuing to navigate the pandemic and adjusting our work in the homes as the regulations changed around us. I spent six months evaluating where the program team was at and working with others to determine the right path moving forward as we merged our two organizations. My role now is focused on implementing changes and supporting the program team through the changes and the day-to-day supports we provide.
One of my favorite experiences from my apartment days was working with Andy at Broadmoor. We had a tour for a potential new person, Molly, one day and Andy came out of his apartment and yelled, “Hey, I know you!” to her. The two reconnected after spending many years apart. They had gone to a special ed program together when they were little. Molly moved in, the two began dating, and eventually Andy proposed. They both moved to Lake Place, and I supported them both through their engagement and creating their living arrangements for their relationship. Being able to watch them profess their love for one another and celebrate at their wedding was a highlight for sure. Molly recently passed away and I was able to go and sit with Andy for a while and just talk to him. I feel honored to have been able to work with him and Molly.
In photo above, Pam is pictured with Alex at Disabilities Services Day at the Capitol, 2017