Paying it forward: Hammer supporter will donate stimulus check

Alex, who is served by Hammer Residences, enjoys a stick of cotton candy during a Twins game with Charlie Venable. (Submitted Photo)

Millions of Americans have received their federal stimulus payments, which are part of the $2.2 trillion economic rescue package signed into law in late March.

The payments of up to $1,200 per individual are meant to help people – especially those who have been laid off, furloughed or had their hours reduced – through the coronavirus pandemic.

For Minneapolis resident Charlie Venable, the promise of a stimulus payment wasn’t considered a relief since he’s been able to continue working his full-time job from home.

Venable works for C.H. Robinson, a logistics company based in Eden Prairie that provides freight transportation and management. And since grocery stores remain open as an essential service, truckers are needed to continue hauling food around the country.

“I’m lucky enough where my job is still going on and I’m still getting paid,” he said. “The stimulus check is great and all, but it feels like I don’t really need it and it could be put to better use.”

So with $1,200 coming his way, Venable decided to donate the money to Hammer Residences, a nonprofit organization based in Wayzata that provides services to people with developmental disabilities.

Venable has gotten to know Hammer through his parents. His mom, Ginger, works for Hammer and his dad, Tom, is a one-on-one volunteer with Alex, who lives at a Hammer home in Wayzata.

Over the past few years, Venable has volunteered by going with Alex to sporting events or spending evenings bowling together.

“And we’ll do little things like go out to dinner or go see a movie,” he said. “I don’t do that as often as my dad does, but if I’ve got some spare time and they’re doing something, I’ll tag along.”

In March, as people ramped up efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Venable learned that Hammer was in need of help to further protect the individuals the organization serves.

According to Ellen Timmerman-Borer, Hammer’s chief development officer, the organization was an early adopter of social distancing and closely followed recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Continuing the precautions and preparing new safety measures have required funds that are not in the organization’s budget, so donations have been used to help cover the extra costs, she said.

Timmerman-Borer said financial contributions from supporters have helped to prepare 200 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits ready for nurses to drop off at any of Hammer’s 46 sites if a coronavirus case were to be found. She said gifts like Venable’s also help Hammer cover costs to have direct support professionals in the organization’s homes around the clock. Since many of the residents with Hammer would typically go to work during the day, caregivers are needed for longer hours since those employers are temporarily closed.

“Our caregivers are essential workers who show up every day to care for our most vulnerable citizens. They even find ways to bring joy and fun into their lives. We need to be able to support our caregivers and are making plans to increase benefits to them, if possible,” she said. “Generous donations are supporting our caregivers to come back every day to our homes and apartments and help to keep individuals safe and healthy during this pandemic.”

Venable and other Hammer supporters are encouraging people to join the #ShareMyCheck campaign, which is encouraging as many people as possible to redistribute all or part of their stimulus checks to nonprofits that have been impacted by the virus.

“This is a tough time for a lot of people. I would highly encourage that if you don’t need that stimulus check to donate it to your local charity,” Venable said. “That might be Hammer or that might be something else.”

To learn more about how a financial gift would be used by Hammer Residences, visit hammer.org/give-today.

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