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Don and Lisbeth Cooper, Founders

A Message from our Founders

Are we living the dream 20 years later?

2023 will be the year we celebrate 20 years of mental health recovery at CooperRiis. It seems like yesterday that we stood on the patio overlooking the farm and the 80 acres we had just purchased. The main house had a roof that leaked and no gutters, the haybarn was about to fall as it had a minimal foundation, the property had dying girdled trees from horses, and two other dwellings needed repairs.

What had we done? That thought was fleeting, however; we had work to do.

We wanted to call our program CooperRiis. (Cooper is Don’s family name, and Riis is Lisbeth’s family name.) Over three years, we raised capital, designed, and built lodges, renovated the main house, added a kitchen and dining room, saved the hay barn from despair, and turned it into a thriving art space, wood shop, and animals again lived in the animal barn.

Some Highlights

· The IRS granted CooperRiis Healing Community non-profit status in 2002.

· We shared our vision for a better mental health system at local community groups and were warmly received in the community.

· Virgil and Lis Stucker agreed to be our founding executive director team. They hired our initial 25 talented and caring staff.

· On June 15th, 2003, we opened our doors to residents.

· In 2004, we started Family Education Weekends; we believe mental health recovery is a family affair.

· In 2005, we started the Community Program for transitional living.

· And we opened our Asheville Campus in 2010.

· Twenty years later, over 1,900 residents have come to CooperRiis to recover from their mental health challenges and our staff has grown to 175.

As we celebrate 20 years of being a Healing Community in 2023, we will regularly feature highlights, memories, stories of recovery, and HOPE.

Are we living the dream 20 years later? We let you be the judge.

Happy New Year,

Don and Lisbeth Cooper

Don Cooper & Lisbeth Riis Cooper December, 2023
Don Cooper & Lisbeth Riis Cooper at the ribbon cutting on June 15th, 2003

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