Hammer Celebrates 90 Years of Helping People with Disabilities

Helping people with disabilities reach their highest potential.
Thanks to Hammer staff members like William Mbu (left), Mike Anderson's individuality and personality shine.

Mike Anderson loves getting paychecks. He feels a sense of accomplishment and, of course, relishes having a little extra cash. Anderson decided to retire in 1997, after putting in years of hard work on the job. Like many retirees, he enjoys relaxing and taking part in group activities with his peers.

Anderson is just like everybody else. Except, when he was 6 months old, he developed a brain tumor that left him mentally disabled.

Janet Tuckner enjoys time to herself. She likes relaxing in her one-bedroom apartment after a long day of work. She’s an independent person who loves having a quiet place where she can spend time with her cat and entertain friends.

Tuckner is just like everybody else. Except, when Janet was 2 years old, she contracted spinal meningitis that sent her into a coma for eight months and left her mentally disabled.

Their struggles have made them who they are, and despite these hardships, they’ve had the opportunity to become their own, distinct individuals. One reason they were able to build lives for themselves is the assistance they received from Hammer—an organization that helps people with disabilities achieve success by celebrating their individuality.

Hammer was founded in 1923, and this year it marks its 90th anniversary. In those 90 years, the organization has helped countless individuals thrive in every aspect of life, living up to its mission statement: to provide adults and children with developmental disabilities the opportunity to experience life to its fullest.

Through offering residences, home support, and programs and care of all kinds, Hammer makes sure everyone can achieve their own dreams. If someone is skilled in art, sports, music, writing or anything else, the staff of Hammer nurtures that gift. Hammer helps each individual achieve success, and success for every individual is different.

Hammer has a staff of licensed and trained medical professionals, but the majority of its programs are run by volunteers. More than 600 people donate their time to help clients like Anderson and Tuckner.

Marshall Anderson, Mike’s father, and Barb Tuckner, Janet’s sister and president of Hammer’s board of directors, speak about the organization in tones of awe and gratitude for what Hammer has done for their families.

Barbara Tuckner says that Hammer has helped her sister become independent and realize her potential. “They have been a stellar partner in supporting my sister to live as large a life as she can,” she said.

Marshal Anderson’s thoughts echo Tuckner’s sentiments: “Hammer is a happy family of people who are experiencing life to the fullest.”

Before Hammer, Mike lived a very sedentary lifestyle. His tumor left him with tunnel vision, making physical activity difficult. The staff at Hammer has helped him enjoy exercise and activity, and he now leads a healthier lifestyle.

Janet Tucker always wanted to live her own life. Hammer has allowed her to do that, Barbara Tuckner says. “Living life to the fullest for Janet is working in the community and being integrated into the community.”

Many people come home after a hard day of work. They feed the cat, or kick back and watch TV. They deposit their paycheck and wait for the next to arrive. Thanks to Hammer, Mike Anderson and Janet Tuckner can be just two more lake-area residents living their own lives.