Sunday, September 29, 2013

Penny Cooper, from the Old Homestead of Norton Shores, Michigan to Kenya, has Left America to Support Kenyan Women.

From the Old Homestead in Norton Shores, Michigan to the heart of Africa, Penny Cooper has earned her way to Kenya for the sake of raising the education and human rights of Kenyan women. How often can a man be proud of his bartender? I'm proud of mine. Sunday morning, the tail end of Saturday night, I spotted Penny Cooper departing the Old Homestead with her mile line long line of well-wishers. That was my good fortune because she had travel plans to Chicago that day and then a plane ticket to Kenya. She traveled forth with money from me in her pocket. I find myself happily wishing my writing and my generosity had done more for her.

Cooper is one of those Muskegon County personalities that truly light up the West Michigan shore. If our remember our conversation right, she learned her Christianity at the Lutheran Church in North Muskegon, and those lessons took the deepest of roots. She organizes her life around her commitments to her faith, and most of us reverse the priorities. When Hurricane Sandy devasted the Jersey Shore, Cooper volunteered with the Red Cross and worked double shifts in the forwarded deployed food kitchens staffed by people of faith from all states and walks of life.

Cooper can be described as a lover of fun, and instead of sleeping, her work crew and her passed many nights in downtown Manhattan, where she worked a few nights as a celebrity bartender. She got on the way to New Jersey as soon as possible and returned to North Muskegon unemployed. Her former boss terminated her employment while she fed thousands of hungry people. Blessing in disguise, that's how I met her when she landed a job with Doug Langlois at the Old Homestead, running the bar on Sundays. It's hard to find trouble at the dive bar down the street when the house hires such salt-of-the-earth people.

I knew about Penny Cooper's influence before I met the woman face-to-face at the Homestead. She's quite an attractive woman, as in Christian broadcaster attractive, so I felt a bit of intimidation at first. Cooper had used the Muskegon Social Media Tag Team to crowd source a screening of Girl Rising at Cinema Carousel, a successful effort. Cooper has an eye for fund raising ideas, and the idea of building an audience for a film before it booked a theater made a perfect vehicle for her. For more information, see the webpage, Maybe Cooper can crowd source another local screening, leading the drive from an Internet cafe in Kenya. Anything is possible for this hard worker.

Cooper's mission didn't wait for a person of means to write a big check, although I know of one friend's large gift. Every trip to the Old Homestead brought news of more Bob Scolnik style "social entrepreneurship". One night, she invited friends to make and bake ceramics at a studio near the Lakes Mall. Another night, she booked a program of top comedians and sold out the house for a comedy night. She had planned a bus tour up to Little River Casino, although that had to be canceled due to lack of reservations, which has to be a rarity for Cooper. She even raffled off a huge basket of fine liquors displayed proudly on the bar of the "Homie", a raffle just wrapped up in time for her departure.

Here's my job. I'll keep you posted on Penny Cooper's progress in Kenya and make sure she finally establishes a permanent fundraising site to keep her on the job where human need calls her. In the meantime, keep thinking good thoughts for the improvement of women's rights in Africa.

Friend Penny Cooper and Friend Kenyan Women and the World
Penny Cooper

And now a word from Penny Cooper on how to help her today and over the next sixth months by donating through a website! 

Thank you for the article. By the way, I have a website where people can donate: It was a very nice article and I appreciate it. :-)

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