'Wings Above Kamloops:' Cooper family giving back

By Vanessa Ybarra
September 7, 2017 - 12:57pm Updated: September 7, 2017 - 10:39pm

KAMLOOPS — It's a place that's close to the Cooper family's heart.

On Thursday, the family that started the Cooper grocery store chain announced that funding from the first project of the Cooper Family Foundation will go towards expanding the Kamloops Marjorie Willoughby Hospice Home.

A new addition will be added to the facility, helping to make a difficult time easier for hundreds of families who use the centre each year. It's a day that for Tod Cooper has been a long time coming. 

"It's a great day for Kamloops, said Cooper. "I feel honoured and there's a huge obligation on on our shoulders. Before it was a concept, now it's a reality."

Speaking in front of politicans, family members, workers and volunteers, the Cooper family unveiled the 'Wings Above Kamloops' Cooper Family Foundation.

It's the first foundation for the family best known for the Cooper's grocery stores.

Its goal is to get large-scale projects in Kamloops off the ground, the first one at the Kamloops hospice.

Coopers dad Ron Junior and grandfather Ron Senior both passed away at Kamloops hospice.

"My father who was in a fair amount of pain at the time was made quite comfortable," said Cooper. "As much as the passing of a loved one is a difficult time, the care he received made it much more easier to accept."

The Cooper family has built more than 150 homes in Kamloops.

As the first project of the new foundation, all proceeds from the next home build will go towards constructing a new building at the Kamloops hospice.

"What's the biggest investment you make in your life? It's buying a house," said Nelly Dever, President and CEO of the Cooper Family Foundation. "Can you do both? Usually not. You won't be able to build a big house and make a donation to the hospice but whoever this person is who buys the house, they are doing both. There's nothing more powerful than that."

The building, which is expected to be built next summer, will provide massage and spiritual care rooms for patients along with advanced care planning workshops for people facing end of life.

"Some people like to die at home and so we want to be able to equip the caregivers to support them," said Wendy Marlow, Executive Director of the Kamloops Hospice Association. "The other area is counselling. There's a real need for grief counselling in our community so we'll be able to expand that as well."

For Mel Cooper, the brother of Ron Junior Cooper, the day's gathering was emotionally overwhelming.

"It's the most peaceful place," said Cooper. "My Dad loved the people of hospice. He knew he was dying but he just hugged them and they hugged him."

The family is hoping the building's addition will make patients experience that much more peaceful and comfortable.

"I'm really just the caretaker for the family," said Tod Cooper. "It's all of us working together to do this."

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