Karesa Cooper worked hard Thursday to hold back tears after some special people in her city-sponsored home ownership class honored her for working with them to achieve their dream of owning a home.
Ms. Cooper, 33, the family self-sufficiency home ownership coordinator for the city of Tyler, received two special awards from the prospective homeowners who take her family self-sufficiency class.
The city of Tyler administrates the program, funded through an annual Housing and Urban Development grant. It is a five-year program designed to support low-income families who receive federal rental assistance through HUD and who want to become financially self-sufficient.
The program is administered through the city’s Neighborhood Services Department.
“This is a surprise for me. I wasn’t expecting this. I’m not going to cry,” she said after Kenneth Alexander, one of the program participants, presented her with the awards naming her as an employee of the month for July and August in the Neighborhood Services Department. She said afterward that the recognition came as a complete surprise.
“We always said we love you, and now we’ll show you,” Alexander told Ms. Cooper as he presented the two plaques.
“My passion is helping people,” Ms. Cooper said.
She is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, where she earned her degree in sociology and has worked for the city of Tyler since March 2012. She thanked the group of people in her class for working so well with her.
“You all give me so much joy — I love to come to work,” she said. The most exciting part of her job is to see people advance and to accomplish their goals, Ms. Cooper said.
Alexander, who presented the awards to Ms. Cooper, will soon see his dream of home ownership come to fruition. After a July story ran in the Tyler Morning Telegraph about his work in the city’s family self-sufficiency program and his need to come up with $1,000 in earnest money to place a bid on a home, Alexander received $1,000 from an anonymous donor.
The 63-year-old said he hasn’t moved in yet, but he is close to closing on the deal.
“I was overwhelmed at the news — who wouldn’t be?” Alexander said. He said he has enjoyed seeing his classmates do well and go further in their goals to be homeowners.