Tammy Hamer grew up in Oramel, New York, a very small town in the western part of the state. It may surprise you to learn that Oramel is actually situated in dairy farm country; New York is not all tall buildings and concrete!
She, along with her three brothers and four sisters, had a wise and kind role model in their mother, who Tammy says was the most influential person in her life. “There was a time when I was young, we had very little and my mom taught me that no matter how little you had, you could always give,” she recalled. “She also taught me about perseverance, to work hard, and to be proud of any achievements, no matter how small. She did not look at life’s struggles as roadblocks, she used them as steppingstones for a better life for our family.”
Tammy attended Belfast Central School from K–12 in a class of about 35 students and graduated with Regents Honors – which is no easy task, requiring a computed average score of 90 or higher on all examinations required for the special Regents diploma. She was a cheerleader throughout high school and played soccer, earning two trips to the sectional playoffs as half-back and goalie for the team. She also met the love of her life, Gil Hamer, her high school sweetheart whom she has been married to for 39 years.
She says her education came mainly from the many opportunities, as well as challenges, of being a military wife. She has lived and worked in multiple countries, and many times was left alone to manage things while her husband was deployed, which developed her ability to think logically, and to accomplish those things that need to be done. “My degree comes with stripes and navigation of life,” she says.
Typical of military families, the Hamers moved regularly and lived on various military bases, including Griffiss Air Force Base, New York; Mildenhall AB, United Kingdom; Andrews AFB, Maryland; Robins AFB, Georgia; Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota; and Ramstein AB, Germany, to name a few.
As a young family, it was through their connection with the Air Force that they first became involved with credit unions, as they opened their first joint account at Up State FCU at the former Griffiss Air Force Base. “The credit union philosophy of serving community was like a breath of fresh air, and we are still members to this day,” she shared.
Moving cross-country and overseas, it’s not surprising that Tammy held a variety of jobs over the years. She was a fast-food manager, a licensed day care provider, worked at several military exchange stores, was a supervisor for Lowe’s home improvement store, worked in accounts payable and receivable, and even worked for Wachovia Bank for a short time, all before finding her home at Sentinel Federal Credit Union, where she says she hopes to finish out her working years.
“My first experience with Sentinel Federal Credit Union was as a member,” she shared. “We were treated with the utmost respect and willingness to help, no matter the situation. When a teller position came available, I talked with my husband about wanting to be a part of a family that truly cared for all, so I applied and never looked back.”
It was 2006 when she was first hired as a teller. Just one week later, she was asked if she would like to work with a new project, a call center. She received the title of Call Center Manager, and just this past spring, she received an expanded title of Operations/Call Center Manager.
Her responsibilities are wide-ranging and include overseeing all call center staff and level of service, managing the credit union’s plastics platform, keeping track of equipment maintenance, warranties, and contracts, as well as some accounting duties.
“From a call center perspective, the credit union give us the opportunity to be a lifeline to members that may not have anyone in their lives,” she says. “We are blessed to be a part of our members’ lives, and they truly are family. The cooperative nature of credit unions is something that I had never experienced before – and that it is what makes them great!”
She continues, “I am exceptionally proud of the creation of the Call Center. It grew from a receptionist position to a one-stop contact center for our members. I am most proud of the fact that we are a live contact center – our members do not have to decide which number best suits their needs. We maintain a yearly average of 98.9 percent service level with four Call Center representatives, including me. While building the Call Center, we also were able to establish payments over the phone for our members. Not only do we assist our members on the phone, we are also responsible for wires, ACH, credit cards, debit cards, disputes, IRAs and loan questions. We truly are a full-service Call Center,” she explained.
Tammy has a history of making those personal connections to support those around her. She has served with various enlisted wives’ groups and was the group president for the former Transportation Squadron at Ellsworth. She has been a facilitator for the Horizon Community group for Box Elder and has received various honors and certificates of achievement from the AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service), and the Military Spouse Medal from the Air Force. She is an active member of the Sentinel Cares team that organizes events and fundraisers for the local community, and recently, she received the Sentinel Federal Credit Union President’s Award.
She also gives generously of her time for various community events, volunteering at the high school theater, making costumes, and even building sets. She has volunteered for the United Way Day of Caring, Habitat for Humanity, Feeding South Dakota, and works at the hospitality table for the stock show in Rapid City. When she was stationed overseas, she organized and volunteered to cook Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for airmen who would otherwise be alone and made Christmas cookies for many of the single airmen living in the dormitories. She has served as a Tiger Scout leader, a cheerleading coach, tee ball and soccer coach, and supports Out of the Darkness and autism awareness events.
In her personal life, Tammy and her husband, Gil, have two children. Son Jesse is married to Cassie, a “South Dakota girl,” and are the parents of two boys: Aiden (11); and Liam (9). Daughter Kaley (Hamer) Outka, also married a South Dakota native, Nick. They have one son, Jasper Fin (19 months) and are expecting a daughter in October. They also have three fur babies: Otis, a 120-pound Chocolate Lab who thinks he is a lap dog; Watson, a Jack Russel Terrier, and Max, who is a mystery breed, but is well-loved anyway!
In her free time, Tammy loves to escape to the Black Hills, camping and riding the side-by-side. She is a huge Buffalo Bills Mafia fan – GO BUFFALO! She has a surprising hidden talent – she can whistle with every one of her fingers, which comes in very handy on game day! You can often find her cheering for her team and critiquing the penalties when they are called – even throwing her own penalty flags when the referees get it wrong. But on game days or any day, the family just enjoys spending as much time together as they can.
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