Cooper and Draper: A Tale of a Business Man and a Preacher
(From left) Raymond Cooper and Dr. Al Draper at the Wylie Community Christian Care Center.
Just as the schools, Raymond B. Cooper Junior High and Al Draper Intermediate School stand side-by-side on Hensley Ln. in Wylie, so do the namesakes of the schools in the efforts to meet short term emergency needs of local families at Wylie Community Christian Care Center.
In 1974, when Dr. Al Draper was the pastor at First Baptist Wylie, the church bought a nearby house to start a food pantry. Draper said, “At the time, there were very few churches in the area and each had their own benevolence services. When the pastors met, we realized we were helping the same people. We decided to consolidate our efforts and started the food pantry.” Draper mentioned that in the beginning, if they didn’t have the food a person needed at the pantry, they filled out a voucher and sent the person to Wylie Supermarket, owned by Mr. Tibbals (namesake of Tibbals Elementary). Draper said when he would arrive to pay what was owed, Tibbals would already have the vouchers marked as paid and wouldn’t allow them to pay. Draper said, “He was very generous and unassuming, just like Mr. Cooper.”
In 1982, Dr. Al Draper, the First Baptist Church, and several other local churches, formed the Ministerial Alliance to pool resources for a central Christian Care Center. In 1998, supported by gifts and donations, a dedicated building was built on South Ballard Ave. In 2011, a second building was constructed at the South Ballard location. In 2014, a larger facility (12,000 sq. ft.) was built at 1310 W. Brown St. in Wylie and is where the Center is currently located. (wyliecommunitychristiancare.html)
Draper informs that Cooper became involved with the Center in 1993 and said, “That’s when things really took off. Raymond was a local business man. He rolled up his sleeves and became the face of the Center.”
Cooper explains why the Center is important to him, “The town and the Good Lord have been extremely generous to me. I think I should give back. I went through a poor time in the early 30’s. I saw a lot of people going hungry. I decided it was best to help and I haven’t let up since then.”
Both Cooper and Draper have a special place in their hearts for people who have come to the Center for assistance, and then after a period of time, return to offer their support.
The Center is staffed entirely by volunteers. Ron and Mary Warkentine have volunteered at the Center for four years and have served on the board for many years. Ron donates his skills as a programmer to improve record keeping amongst other technical updates. Mary is one of the volunteers who greets people who ask for assistance at the Center. She says sometimes she has trouble sleeping at night knowing that people she has met that day are sleeping in tents that night. She said, “We can only do so much.” She said there has been an increase in grandparents coming to the Center due to the fact that they are now raising their grandkids because their children are in jail. The Center will offer financial assistance to a family once a year, provide food once a month and clothes four times a year. Mary said that in some cases, for example when a family is living in their vehicle, they give food more often. They assist between 15 – 20 families a day (approximately 2,800 families a year).
When a person arrives at the Center requesting assistance, they will need to provide a Texas ID and proof that they are residents of Wylie, Lavon, Nevada, Josephine, Copeville, Royse City, Sachse, and Murphy. If they do not reside in the cities that the Center serves, they will be told other places to go where they can receive assistance.
They do not currently have a need for clothing or food donations or volunteers, financial donations are always accepted. Wylie ISD families provided 95,000 items of food this year during the annual food drive. Mary informs that by February they will begin to run out of things, specifically toiletries and jelly, and will appreciate donations then. (For a list of needed donations and information on volunteering, please go to wyliecommunitychristiancare.html or follow them on Facebook.)
One need they currently have is a person to offer financial counseling. Draper quoted the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” He added, “Most people really don’t want to be in this situation.” He said they used to offer financial counseling services and would like to be able to do so again. If interested, please call Raymond Cooper at the Center at972-442-4341.
Murphy students, zoned for Wylie ISD, attend Draper Intermediate School and Cooper Middle School. Regarding why a school was named after them, they both offered humble responses of bewilderment. Cooper said, “That is one of the great mysteries of my life.” Draper said, “I have no idea.” They both agree that it is thrilling to interact with the students at their schools. From Cooper Middle School and Draper Intermediate websites, reasons are gleaned, “Raymond Cooper founded Universal Transformer Company in 1957. It was located in Wylie for forty-five years…served on numerous boards and committees…He is a Director on the North Texas Municipal Water District Board and President of the Wylie Christian Care Center Board.” “Since 1969, Dr. Al Draper has been a vital part of the Wylie, Texas civic, religious and leadership communities…became immersed in the Wylie community…received numerous honors and accepted various leadership roles…”