So many aspects of life change when you have a child. Debbie Cooper, United Ministries’ (UM) board member of 4 years, says that her career ambitions completely changed while raising her first child. After working in a for-profit business for years, her perspective altered as she realized that she “wanted to make a difference in the community” to better the world for her family and for future generations. She began working at a child abuse advocacy and prevention organization, and later joined the Community Foundation of Greenville, where she has now been for 20 years as the Director of Donor Services. At the Community Foundation she serves Greenville by “helping people with their charitable objectives and helping them discover local philanthropic-placed investments,” which can help fund life-changing programs for the Greenville community.
UM first intrigued Debbie due to its focus on homelessness in the community. During her year in an initiative of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, she worked with her team to help improve United Ministries’ Place of Hope day shelter for the homeless. Debbie had also been a board member at GAIHN, Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network. She was very supportive of the “joining together” of these two vital community organizations. She believes that the joining of resources and programs increased UM’s ability to make a lasting impact in the lives of the clients they serve. The mergers success was the result of excellent leadership and a supportive community, both of which she is very proud to be a part of.
Being a board member with both GAIHN and UM has enlightened Debbie on many issues that continue to plague citizens in our community. She “knew that [homelessness] was a problem, but [the organizations] made it personal” for her. Being able to talk frankly about homelessness has brought the details of the housing crisis “into reality” for Debbie, and she believes that UM has grown into a nonprofit that can create positive change for the homeless population and beyond. Debbie points out how UM’s reputation has shifted through the years. Once seen mostly as a place to send people for emergency assistance, UM has leaned into focusing more on long-term solutions that can assist everybody in the Greenville community. Debbie looks forward to UM’s growth in the coming years and hopes that the work here can help eradicate homelessness in the community for good.