Jose Cooper was a typical kid and teenager; more than anything, he cared about his favorite sport: soccer.
“Up until the age of 19, pretty much selfish…until I’m at the Lord, then, I just grew passion for people. Then, I started helping people in the community,” Cooper said in an interview with The Click.
The political science sophomore student at Towson University channeled his passion for helping people in a homeless shelter in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. One class that resonated with him was community development as a college student. Ever since then, he wanted to help and share.
“A lot of things that I had, I didn’t use, just like anyone else has like 30 pairs of shoes, I didn’t find the problem of just giving those 20 pairs of shoes away. So anything that we don’t use in our garage, we just gave it away. It’s been a really cool journey.”
Cooper’s giving did not stop there.
Two years after he started donating to homeless shelters, Cooper realized that it is not enough to rely on his family and friends to make a difference. So in 2020, he established Contagious Amor Inc, a nonprofit organization that collects donations to support homeless shelters in D.C. and Maryland.
“We give out the food and display it and maybe 20 plus people we get to help per day, we walk through the city of Baltimore, the city of Washington, DC. And really, whoever comes, we serve. And we just pray for them, see how they’re doing. And just talk to them on a one-to-one basis,” said Cooper.
Contagious Amor has partnered with one of Panera Bread stores in Rockville, Maryland.
Every day, Cooper and his mother pick up leftover food from the store and prepare it for distribution in the evening.
“There are places my mother has gone to serve people, I mean, just living in tents, they’re very cold, “said Cooper looking at his mother, who has been in the front seat from the get-go.
The 25-year-old goes anywhere help is needed, including neighborhoods that many consider unsafe, like Baltimore, where people sleep under bridges.
“When I entered certain neighborhoods, there was something that came to mind. And something very important to me was the soul’s value. Everyone has a soul. And maybe it might have different external looks or different external appearances. And all of us have like different statuses according to income, race, but I didn’t see a problem or difference in just serving someone of a different race or color or where they were placed.“
Currently, Cooper works as a paraeducator at pine crest elementary school in Silver Spring, Maryland.
“The greatest thing to do is to look onto God, but also to focus on people… helping people. Because through that, I was motivated to keep on going because I feel like a lot of people look just inwardly when they should look outward as well.”
In 5- 10 years, Cooper says, he wishes to see his organization grow to hire people and scale up the work.