H.E.A.R.T. is social Entrepreneurship at its best.

The Heart Program was created by Educational Programs Inspiring Communities, Inc.

OUR PROGRAMS

Pizza Training & Employment
In 2012, H.E.A.R.T. was named the exclusive vendor of Papa John’s branded pizza at the new BBVA Compass Stadium...
Concessions Training & Employment
The H.E.A.R.T. Program has provided job training and placement in concessions stands at high-profile venues including the Toyota Center...
Vending Machine Training & Employment
Trainees at H.E.A.R.T. operate and maintain over 70 vending machines throughout the Houston area...
Warehouse Training
Warehouse Training occurs as a “first step” before the trainees are enrolled in a community-based training opportunity...
Summer Internship
*Summer 2017* H.E.A.R.T. is offering a 4-week summer internship opportunity for special needs individuals 16 and up…
Classroom Instruction
The H.E.A.R.T. Program has a philosophy of life-long learning. We do not believe that education should end because individuals have aged out of the school system...

  • “Thank you for my job.  I work real hard and I have a lot of friends and The HEART Program is the best job ever.”

    - Keith Grant, H.E.A.R.T. Trainee

When Hurricane Harvey hit southeast Texas in August 2017, the devastation was widespread. The hurricane left many people without food, water, shelter, electricity, and more. As the region continued to get pounded with rain, flooding ensued, and thousands of people had to evacuate or risk being stranded indefinitely in a home that was uninhabitable and unreachable. As people in the region fled their homes, many Houstonians made their way to the NRG Center, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency set up as a shelter.

The NRG Center provided shelter for about 10,000 people – the size of a small town – and they needed access to life’s basic necessities, especially food. Keith Sullins, who owns multiple Papa John’s franchises in Houston, including concession stands at NRG, decided to donate pizzas to people who were sheltering at NRG. Sullins knew he already had the ingredients and equipment on hand (multiple events were scheduled at NRG before the hurricane prompted events to be cancelled), but he needed people to work the stands.

The H.E.A.R.T. Program helps adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (trainees) in Houston achieve their employment potential. For the past few years, H.E.A.R.T. Program trainees had been operating concession stands at NRG. The trainees primarily operated concession stands for Papa John’s, making pizzas from scratch in the kitchen. Brian Gaspard, Vice President of Non-Traditional Operations for Papa John’s (which includes operations at NRG), reached out to H.E.A.R.T. to see if they could help. “After all, nobody makes a pizza like H.E.A.R.T.,” said Gaspard. Staff and trainees at H.E.A.R.T. were excited to have an opportunity to give back during the disaster and accepted Gaspard’s invitation.

H.E.A.R.T. trainees spent the next three nights operating Papa John’s stands at NRG, serving warm pizzas free of charge to evacuees. Trainees did everything involved with making the pizzas and operating the stand. They prepared the dough, combined the ingredients, and cooked and boxed the pizzas. They did everything they usually do when they operate a Papa John’s stand during an event, except, of course, for operating the cash register. Trainees made 1,000 pizzas each night for a total of 3,000 pizzas over the course of the three nights.

Before Gaspard decided to get involved in the shelter efforts at NRG, he had been using his boat to rescue people in the area who were stranded in their flooded homes. Some people regarded Gaspard’s actions as heroic. After having an opportunity to give back to people in his community during a time of need, H.E.A.R.T. trainee Bradley said to Gaspard, “Thanks for letting me be a hero, too.”

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