Volunteer at Rebuilding Together
Carl Hammer has quietly and diligently made an impact on his community since 1991 by working with Rebuilding Together Sacramento, which repairs homes, revitalizes communities and rebuilds lives. Since the organization began in Sacramento, over 6,500 homes and 92 community facilities have been repaired. Carl has looked for ways to be most effective and found a way to give back by raising money to go toward home improvements for his neighbors that would not otherwise afford them, and we are so thank for his work!
Tell us a little about yourself
I am 94 years old, from the South Natomas area, with my wife of 71 years. We have 3 children, 7 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. We moved here in 1990 and started working with Rebuilding Together in 1991. This became my retired life - which means what I now do for work! Also, since I retired, I formed a senior fitness exercise group, which I taught here in Sacramento for 18 years. I now live in a senior complex called The Village in North Natomas.
How are you making a difference in your community?
I work with a nonprofit organization called Rebuilding Together, making it safer for seniors to live in their own homes by installing safety devices. And I don't just do the work on the houses, I also I raise money through making a variety of jams and applesauce; 100% of the sales goes to Rebuilding Together. We make up to 1500 jars a year, which translates to $6,000-$7,000; this funding means that 100+ homes are made safer each year. We are addressing an area of need that other organizations are not participating in (making an effort to keep seniors safe in their own homes). This is important to me because nobody else is doing it, and I am very concerned about the safety and the neglect of seniors.
What inspires your community efforts? Why is the work important to you?
I think the biggest inspiration is the results that we see from our work and the gratitude that we receive from our recipients, as well as the instant gratification that our volunteers receive.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I was able to organize the Home Safety Program with Rebuilding Together in 2000. And that program has grown to great proportions - we have served over 3,700 seniors with volunteers, means we can offer it at no cost to the seniors. We also have a program, which is fee-for-service, for people who can afford to have the work done (which is at a nominal fee).
What have you struggled most with in your life?
I don't really feel like I've had many struggles. There have been challenges, sure, but I generally take things head on, and choose not to see it as a struggle, as such. For my community efforts, financing to keep the program stable is an ongoing challenge that we are always working to resolve.
What kind of lessons do you think are important to instill in future generations?
I think - of course I always think - it's better to give than receive, and the rewards of giving are much greater than those of receiving.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
More recognition by the community and the media of the challenges and problems that seniors face. The senior challenges seem to get lost in the rhetoric of the younger generations and politics. I think most people don't think about how much life changes as we age, and things that we once normal are now challenging, and you can't always necessarily solve those problems on your own. For example, housing, being safe in your own home. Transportation, medical care, daily physical care and well-being, and also finances.
How do you decompress?
Take a deep breath! And move on. I do relax a little bit, but to be honest, I haven't really slowed down that much! My grandkids joke that I am more active than they are - and they have small children!