Dedicated to helping others, Kevin Cope’s mission to give back is inspiring to everyone around him.
Kevin endured lasting trauma early on in his life, leading to depression and self-medicating with substances. Then in 2001 his mother died suddenly of an aneurism. “I tried to drive my car off the Delaware Bridge,” says Kevin. Not long after, he lost his job triggering another breakdown. “It was one of the hardest things I had to deal with.” After working hard at his recovery a third setback – the loss of another job – sent him looking for help. “I asked my high power, I asked God if you can get me through this, I'll do anything for just to make sure that I can give back.”
In 2016, Kevin moved into Lutheran Social Services of New York’s Bergen Street Residence. “I was given the opportunity to start a new chapter.” While his first year at Bergen Street was initially tough, Kevin built close connections with staff. He says: ”The staff is wonderful. They respect me. If I have a problem, they address it. I love the staff.”
Starting in 2017 Kevin began volunteering at a church shelter. “Working at the shelter makes me feel great. It makes me feel like I'm alive. I'm there for a purpose. I like taking care of people where they can get a meal. They can take a shower. We have clothes for them. Even though I don't get paid for it, it's instant gratification.” He is now a “co-chair,” helping to run the place.
Kevin’s colleague at the shelter, David H. Floyd, said: “His whole mission in life is to provide service to others. He provides so much sustenance to people who are really in need of it.”
Kevin also volunteered at a food pantry during the pandemic, putting himself at risk to make sure others had enough to eat. In addition to his service work, Kevin also secured an Opioid Overdose Prevention Program Certification through the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and completed accessibility clerk training through the Board of Elections. It was thus no surprise when Kevin received a Certificate of Recognition from the NYC Mayor’s Office Service Recognition Program.
“Kevin has taught us that – in his words – one should ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you. Be kind and do not give in to hate.’” Said Bergen Street’s Program Director, Donika Prelvuaj.
In light of Kevin’s advocacy, grace and compassion, we are honored to award Kevin as Tenant of the Year.