WAYZATA — Hammer Residences will be one of the nonprofits that will benefit from an art show.

Avista, a strategic technology solutions company in St. Paul, is hosting a “Closing Reception for a Cause” art show Thursday July 13th, from 4 to 8 p.m. All proceeds from the evening will go back to Fraser (Minnesota's largest provider of autism services) and Hammer Residences to help with staffing needs. The event will kick off the Highland Art Festival weekend to celebrate these two nonprofits in the disability field.

Support staff at Hammer make between $12 and $16 an hour. Many direct care staff need to work multiple jobs resulting in constant open positions and rapid turnover across the field.

With state aid also being cut for many people with disabilities, the funding for residential providers will continue to decrease. This means donations and gifts must be used for funding the quality of life for individuals supported by Hammer and Fraser with no extra funds for augmenting staff wages.

“Group home providers need increased funding to provide quality services to folks who need a little extra help." Emily Lavalier said. Lavalier works for Hammer Residences as a member of the support staff and has the the opportunity to work in most of Hammer’s 37 group homes and 10 apartment programs throughout the western suburbs. She is also the Highland Art Festival's 2017 featured artist and has a unique style of paper-cutting art she said is "shaped everyday by her full-time work in the disability field."

"What we want are quality services and opportunities for people with disabilities, but also the funding to pay the team who gets them there,” Lavalier said.

Avista hosted artwork from Lavalier and James Levine, an abstract artist from St. Paul, for the last six months, at their St. Paul location on Ford Parkway. Levine is a long-time VA employee and lives independently with the support of Fraser.

To celebrate their time at Avista, Lavalier and Levine will be selling prints and originals at the show while attendees enjoy beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages and hors d'oeuvres. People can check out the art while enjoying the refreshments at Avista, 2145 Ford Parkway, Suite 300, Saint Paul. There is free parking in the ramp with a pass guests will receive at the show. Purchases will be tax-deductible.


Amanda Schwarze is a Lakeshore reporter who is passionate about local government and nonprofit projects. She is thoughtful and independent. Amanda loves traveling, cooking and spending time with her boyfriend and their two cats (Buddy Guy and Spotacus).