The Heimer Club Helps Hope Vocational Students

Mar 13, 2015 | Hope in the News

Students participating in Hope’s Vocational Program are grinning and grilling after a special gift to increase their job skills.

It’s all thanks to The Heimer Club—a group of friends who gather each week for breakfast and coffee—which donated a Panini grill to Noll Café. The specialty sandwiches can now be purchased in the small restaurant located on the lower-level of Noll Medical Pavilion in Springfield. The grill has led to four delicious new café sandwiches, including “The Heimer Club” Panini. Students, who are supervised by adult staff members, can use the grill to learn new job skills that can make them more marketable as they look for employment, said Greg Gardner, Hope’s Vocational Manager.

“Students in our vocational program receive extensive job training, which allows them to develop valuable skills they can apply at various job settings,” he said.

Those skills include sticking to a routine, following directions and completing tasks in a timely fashion, he said.

Currently, students who participate in Hope’s Vocational Program work at 18 job locations throughout the community.

The Heimer Club was formed as a support system for Gardner, who was paralyzed after he was hit by a car while jogging in 2005. The group meets at Noll Café each Friday and members also teach students teamwork, cooperation and work-related terms to increase their chances of job success.

“These guys are patient, kind and are excellent role models for our youth. This group inspires our students and we are thankful to have their support,” said Skylar Tierney, Hope Director of Vocational and Educational Professional Development.

“When I saw how much the community helped me out, I just wanted to help other people,” said Gardner, who also employs students at his business Individual Differences Inc. The company offers physical therapy for people who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

Hope’s Vocational Program has formed partnerships with businesses to allow students valuable work experience, including stocking and sorting Formica chip boards that are featured in hardware stores.

To learn more about how you can get involved, contact Skylar Tierney, Hope Director of Vocational and Educational Professional Development. He can be reached at 217-585-5129 or email him at

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The Hope Institute

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Springfield, IL 62712