Noll Café at The Hope Institute has great food and great service. The students from Hope that work in the café are always making sure there is an upbeat atmosphere. Michael, 15, one of those students who works at Noll Café is thriving not only in the vocational program here at Hope, but in everything he takes on.
Michael is often seen working the cash register, making sandwiches, or just helping other staff. His friendly demeanor and wonderful personality are apparent whenever you are around Michael.
“The café is fun. I see lots of great people,” said Michael. “I have learned to make many different sandwiches.”
Michael started at Hope in February 2011. Michael was having trouble with the sensory overloads and other aspects of previous school experiences. Then Michael’s family found Hope. When Michael came for his visit, he immediately took to the staff and loved the idea of living in the community homes.
“He was excited to move into campus housing,” said his mother Dawn. “He pretended it was his college just like his older sister, Katie. Some of the transitions were not easy, but he is now very happy in his off-campus group home and loves his classes.”
Michael has succeeded and has become involved in many activities while here at Hope. He has become a member of the Boy Scouts, he has won 22 medals in regional and state Special Olympics, and he has also become very involved in the musical productions during the school year. Some might recognize him as Flounder in “The Little Mermaid,” Lumiere in “Beauty and the Beast,” and Jafar in “Aladdin, Jr.”
“I like learning math and reading, and I like playing with the other kids and being in musicals,” said Michael. “Jafar was my favorite character so far, I love his laugh.”
Overall, Michael’s time at Hope has allowed him to open up. He is seen talking a lot now, whereas before, he had very little verbal skills. He has made a lot of progress and he is excited to move into an older class in the vocational program when the school year starts.
“He is happy, learning, and excited about life and being with people. He is becoming responsible and helpful and a joy to take places,” said Dawn. “He is no longer violent or destructive. It is wonderful to see a bright future unfolding for our son.”