Meet Marybeth

Cooper House is a residential facility that exists to serve people who are no longer able to live independently as a result of HIV/AIDS. Up to 36 residents have access to a 24-hour nursing staff and two social workers, providing opportunities to improve their health. In addition, they have a full-time activities coordinator who works to rehabilitate residents through programming and events.

Marybeth King has served as the Cooper House activities coordinator for three years. King works directly with residents, providing opportunities for them by hosting and transporting them to various events. “I consider myself the unofficial soccer mom of the building,” said King.

Many of the activities are simple, but engaging. Guest volunteers host arts and crafts in the activities room. King leads a light exercise or yoga class in the mornings. Sometimes, musical groups and story-telling groups will perform for the residents. Bingo has been described as the “life blood” of the activities for the residents and is highly anticipated. To incentivize participation, King has created the Cooper House Canteen, which is a cabinet stocked with prizes that the residents can choose from if they attend five in-house events.  “It’s important for their physical and emotional well-being to get out of their room as often as possible,” noted King. “Our goal is to help them regain their physical strength as well as their enjoyment of life.”

King also works to get the residents out of Cooper House by facilitating regular outings. The residents love to bowl, so they go to Tropicana Lanes once each month. Every summer, they go to the St. Louis Zoo. There are often library events or concerts that they can attend, and residents themselves often suggest activities to King. One event that everyone looks forward to is the weekly Walmart trip. King explained that field trips play an important role in rebuilding each resident’s confidence in managing their own lives. “It’s the simple little things, nothing fancy, that really make the difference,” said King. “It’s baby steps toward independent living, and giving them the tools to take responsibility for themselves.”

These outings also allow the residents to socialize. Many of the residents have limited income and infrequent access to vehicles, so if they had to rely on a cab in order to get around they wouldn’t get to do as much.  Sometimes, all it takes is that trip to the grocery store to get residents out of their shells and start opening up to friendships. King has found that residents will often help each other as they get to know each other. “They look out for each other when we go to the store. They help each other in and out of the van. They really find rapport with each other and build community every time we get together,” said King. Residents of Cooper House are from diverse backgrounds, and are often recovering from homelessness, addiction, physical or mental health issues, or past trauma. Finding community and a source of engagement has proven to help many residents improve their quality of life.

But King reminds herself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. “You have to take this one day at a time. It’s about getting people out of their rooms to do something different. And even if it’s just for 10 minutes, it’s a start,” said King.

Do you want to make a positive difference in a resident’s life? Cooper House is always looking for activities to enhance our resident’s experience. Sign up to teach arts and crafts, host a bingo tournament, or donate some Cardinals tickets. Call Patrick at 314-328-2707 for more information and ideas on how to get involved.

 

 

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Click here for more information on the Cooper House Program.

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