Du Quoin Youth Club Director Nicole Heape enjoys providing a safe place for children to attend after school.
“Many get help with their homework, which some would not get help with at home,” Heape told SW Illinois News. “I have been very fortunate to have three retired PE teachers work for me over the years. They play structured games with the kids and provide the discipline needed to keep the kids respectful.”
Heape began working at the youth club while a college student and she became the director in 2007.
Du Quoin Youth Club Director Nicole Heape
“My favorite thing about the job is seeing the kids grow from year to year,” Heape said. “We take care of so many that don't have the support at home. We truly have a mix of kids, but those that need us the most usually are the ones that we remember. I hope the kids that have gone through the youth club over the years think back and realize what a great place it is.”
In addition to being the director of the youth club, Heape is currently a teacher at Elverado High School. She also assists with the Booster Club at the high school, attends park board meetings for the City of Du Quoin and has been the manager of the Du Quoin Municipal Pool for the past 10 years.
“Helping in the community is important because without community support, the youth club would not be open,” Heape said. “Every year in March we have an annual fundraiser called the Charity Ball. If we did not have this fundraiser, the youth club would probably only be sustainable for two years without the proceeds we receive from it. The event consists of a live and silent auction along with dinner and dancing. Many businesses donate trips or items, and a group of volunteers along with myself spend six to seven months planning the event.”
Heape was born and raised in Du Quoin, where she still currently resides. She likes spending her free time with her children, working outside and attending sporting events.