More from the series
Faces of Christmas
The Fresno Bee's 12 Faces of Christmas is a tribute to unsung residents in the central San Joaquin Valley who make it their mission to help year-round.
The basics: Trisha Cooper is board president of EPU Children’s Center, a 41-year-old parent training and information center that provides free services to families of children with special needs across 10 counties. She also is the co-founder of the Autism Awareness Committee at Central Unified School District.
What she does: She helps provide six types of services and raises funds for EPU while aiming to strengthen and empower families of children with developmental disabilities who face “extraordinary medical, developmental and parenting challenges” at EPU. Services include the assessment center, the family resource center, the infant family program and a parenting program.
Why she does it: “I’m still working hard to ensure that these (EPU) services don’t go away for the children and the families that come through.”
The turning point: Her son, Brandon, was only 2 years old when he was diagnosed with autism. She took him to a psychologist who recommended that she visit EPU Children’s Center. After her visit she thought to herself, “I knew that this is where our family should be.” She joined EPU as a parent in 2005.
Details, details: At EPU, she joined a support group where she learned how to advocate for different types of programs and services in the community. In 2012, she was asked to join the board of directors and has helped EPU raise nearly $500,000 for services through the Fiesta de los Niños fundraiser. She was also named the 2017 winner of the She’s Makes a Difference award at the Central California Women’s Conference and was recognized as the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser among the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ National Philanthropy Day honorees.
What others say: “I had the opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder with Trisha to raise money at this event. She is warm, passionate, inspirational; it has truly been my honor to have the opportunity to work so closely with her,” said Kathleen Price, chief development officer for EPU Children’s Center.