Nancy Balicki Yesu: Thanks to the Cooper family and Dollars for Scholars

Published: 05-29-2024 4:26 PM

Modified: 05-29-2024 6:21 PM

Rich Cooper’s letter “50 years supporting Northampton students,” [Gazette, May 25] filled me with great joy. Back in 1980, I was a recipient of a Dollars for Scholars scholarship. Without it I would not have been able to attend Springfield College and ultimately receive my bachelor of science degree. I have always been grateful for the help I received and try to donate back to the organization as often as I can, most recently in honor and memory of my dear high school friend, Mo Mahar.

I wanted to remind folks that Rich and his family have been instrumental in the success of this program. “The humble beginning of Northampton Dollars for Scholars owes its gratitude to the foresight of Fred Ames, Ralph Levy, Frank Heston, Kay Sheehan, and Russ Cooper. They began the Dollars for Scholars chapter in Northampton, with the goal of each resident donating one dollar per year,” the program’s website reads.

Rich and his family (Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, Ed, Ron) also gave me my first job in Florence at Cooper’s Corner. I was a 15-year-old attending high school and riding my bike to work at the store on the weekends. In this part-time job I learned how to talk to adults, how to be responsible and also a bit of self-confidence. I loved being part of the extended community of Florence and seeing our regular customers on the weekends. Many would come in after church on Sundays where we would have their Sunday paper saved for them along with their regular bag of donuts.

Although I no longer live in Northampton, I do work here and my best friends to this day are from my childhood. I want to thank Rich Cooper for loving this community as much as I do and continuing to champion his support through the Dollars for Scholars organization. I hope you’ll all make a donation!

Nancy Balicki Yesu

Northampton High School Class of 1980, Longmeadow