Showcasing Our Homes–Lakeside

Showcasing Our Homes–Lakeside

Meet the Lakeside home!

Each of our Hammer & NER homes is unique because of the people who live and work there. The “Showcasing Our Homes” profiles celebrate our homes (and apartment programs), the people who live there, and the staff who support them. Let’s learn about the Lakeside home in Minnetonka!

The Lakeside home is staffed by Program Manager Emma Handeland and Direct Support Professionals Christine Tokpah and Huda Jama.

Christine with Alysha

Emma has worked with Hammer & NER for 5 years. She began as a DSP at our McGlinch home and later became a Lead DSP. She then transferred to Lancaster for a little over a year as a Lead DSP. During that time, she did PMIT (Program Manager in Training) and was hired for a position opening up at the Lakeside home. Emma shadowed the Program Manager (PM) for a month, who stayed on in a lead position and helped Emma learn the role over the next year until she (the former PM) retired.

Christine has been at Lakeside for several years. Emma says she is very hard working and always willing to help out, whether that be running an errand or filling an open shift. “Christine has taken the time to really learn about the people we support and their likes and dislikes,” Emma says. “She always shows up ready to work hard and goes above and beyond in everything she does. She is a kind, caring, an excellent part of our team, and it’s a blessing to get to work with her!”


Huda came to Lakeside nine months ago. Emma appreciates the compassion she has for those she supports. “She always sits and listens to them when they have a problem and wants to help fix it,” Emma says. “She is very patient. She is also always willing to help me get tasks done such as taking individuals out weekly for shopping, running errands, and taking them to activities. Huda has been a great addition to our team, and I really appreciate all she does for everyone at Lakeside!”

Let’s meet the people supported at Lakeside!


TJ with Megan

Travis (TJ) moved to Lakeside in 2009. He likes to talk about his Hammer Travel trips—he goes on several each year. He recently returned from a Hammer Travel trip to Fort Myers to watch the MN Twins spring training. He is still excited about it. Emma says TJ loves his day program and going on outings such as bowling or the movies. He also loves hugs. “He is very sweet and silly” Emma says. “He always plays hide and seek and jokes around with staff. TJ especially enjoys being around his housemate, Megan.


Megan has resided at Lakeside since 2014. Megan loves to play on her iPad and enjoys going shopping, to the movies, and bowling. She also loves visiting her parents and their dog. Megan is very kind and loving to her housemates, serving as a “big sister.” She talks with them and helps them, making them feel comfortable. “She is especially helpful and sweet to her newest housemate, Alysha,” Emma says. Megan loves to go on the Hammer Travel fishing trips each year and says one of her favorite things is getting all the gear ready.


Jacob (Jake) also moved to Lakeside in 2014. Jake loves to play video games, hangout with his brothers, go to the movies, and go out to dinner. He has a volunteer who goes for walks with him often. “Jake loves to make jokes and is always smiling,” Emma says. “He’s always got a big smile on his face.” Like TJ, Jake went to Fort Myers with Hammer Travel to watch spring training and had a great time.


Lucas has lived at Lakeside since 2017. “Lucas loves to go on outings!” Emma says. “The movies, bowling, for a walk, to the gym, to the main office for bingo or craft night, out to dinner, the list goes on!” Lucas loves to greet visitors at the door, is very friendly, and loves talking to everyone. “He is a joy to be around,” Emma says. Lucas says he loves to win at UNO. He is also very good at doing math problems and proudly shows off a stack of worksheets he does at his day program. He tells a visitor he loves to sing. “He loves all types of music,” Emma says.


Ryan moved to Lakeside in 2022. He enjoys playing bowling on his iPad (or real bowling), going for walks, doing word searches, and watching sports, movies, or the TV show “Henry Danger.” Like Lucas, he also enjoys playing UNO. Ryan loves going to the library, movies, shopping, and out to dinner. “Ryan is very friendly and loves to talk about sports and his routine,” Emma says. “Ryan gets along well with all of his housemates and is really fun to be around!”


Alysha is the “newbie” to Lakeside, having moved in last year. Although she is very shy, she enjoys talking about her dolls, Lolly and Abby. “Alysha has recently started opening up and being sillier and more playful with her housemates and staff,” says Emma. “She loves to carry car keys or cell phones—thankfully she has never lost them! Sometimes she will play a trick on us and say ‘I lost your keys! Just kidding!’ She is also very sweet and caring. If someone is upset, she asks if they’re okay.” Alysha loves going on outings including shopping, the movies, or out to eat at Olive Garden.

Emma with TJ

What makes this home special?
Emma: “The way the people we support all interact with each other. They have a friendship with each other. Also, the way the staff come together and help each other. All our families are involved, too. Jake goes to church with his family. Ryan goes with his family every weekend. Megan’s parents are 10 minutes away and she enjoys going to visit with them.  TJ’s parents Facetime with him and visit often when they’re in town. Alysha’s dad was very special to her. Unfortunately, he passed away last year, but she loves spending time with her mom and brother BJ. Lucas loves going to the movies or out to dinner with his parents.”

Emma: “I’m so thankful for Christine and Huda. They always come through filling extra shifts. They do a lot for those we support; they really care for them. Our Program Director, Brenda Barthel, is wonderful, too. I don’t think I would have been as successful in this position without her helping me through the many tough situations that came up this past year.”

As PM, what hopes and dreams do you have for the home?
Emma: “Stability. We had a lot of ups and downs in the past year—not having enough staff has really been a struggle. A housemate who had lived at Lakeside for years moved out last year, which was a big transition for everyone. One of our long-time staff also retired. So, there’s been a lot of change. But I look at the house now and everyone is in a good place and doing good. I hope for stability and consistency and getting out and doing all the things that are fun for them. I love to see them be able to do all the things they would like. I try to teach them more and more independence.”

How could volunteers benefit the Lakeside home?
Emma: “We have one volunteer who brings her dog. Although she comes to visit Jake, everyone looks forward to seeing them and they will go on walks together. If I could get each of them a 1:1 volunteer, it would make them feel special.”


  1. Caren Martin

    As Lucas’ parents, we are so impressed with Emma’s cheerful outlook and how much she cares. Under her leadership, we find that the staff too are doing a really great job. Everyone is obviously invested in providing a positive atmosphere and their care and concern–and sense of humor are so appreciated. Thanks for all you do!

  2. Whitney Klinck

    As Alysha’s sister-in-law, I am so impressed with how well Alysha has adjusted in her new home with her awesome housemates and staff, we are so blessed for this! BJ, Evie (Alysha’s niece) and I picked Alysha up last week to take her to dinner and the staff was so nice, and it was great having Lucas greet us at the door letting us know that “he’s doing good, for a Sunday!” Upon our return, we were greeted by Megan and we could see how caring she is towards Alysha, and what a great sense of humor too! What an absolute sweetheart! We hope to bring one of our sweet, kind pups to visit everyone at Lakeside if we are able to in the near future! Thank you, Emma, Lakeside and team!


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