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Jefferson Awards: David Cooper's vision, goodwill & generosity

Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 29, 2021

The Jefferson Awards is now Multiplying Good, and we could use a little good in our lives. While there is a new name, the essence of the service doesn't change. WRTV is still recognizing unsung heroes through the "Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good." Nominate someone you know who is making a difference for a Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good.

INDIANAPOLIS — For decades, David Cooper has lifted up those around him in Indiana and half a world away.

It was a typical day in the officer for Cooper, 73, until a surprise visit turned the day into a celebration of decades-worth of goodwill and generosity.

A generous gesture for his staff at the height of the pandemic moved his employee, Treva Shuler, to put words to paper. She nominated him for the Jefferson Aware for Multiplying Goods.

"He then presented everybody with an additional paycheck," Shuler said. "So when that happened, my staff, we was all in tears."

"We felt it was very important to give them a cushion so that they could sleep at night," Cooper said. "We were able to keep all our employees the whole time. We never had to lay anybody off."

Cooper co-founded a non-profit organization, Community Reinvestment Foundation, which among other outreach missions, strives to provide quality, affordable housing, geared toward low-income and senior renters.

For more than 20 years and with some initial help from government grant programs, Cooper's non-profit has bought, renovated and built more than 2,500 apartment units across Indiana.

"Their rent is 30% of their annual income," Shuler said.

Shuler runs one of the properties on Indianapolis' northeast side.

"That was his passion," Shuler said. "To make sure everyone has affordable housing."

Any extra revenue from the non-profit, Cooper redirects it into community outreach programs that help his renters.

"It's always our goal to give back to the people we are responsible for," Cooper said.

But he is also making a difference on a global scale and contributing money and resources to help build schools, orphanages and churches.

With his son Erik, who is the vice president of the housing company, they are active in Project Rescue, which helps victims of human trafficking change their lives.

"For me, I've always aspired to be like my dad, I think," Erik said.

"I'm shocked. I really am," David said. "I am not in the business to be recognized. I feel comfortable in the background. And so when you walked in and walked up to me with this, I was just completely surprised."