Volunteer busy with Black Achievers program

January 17, 2007|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note - There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

Maureen Turner-Cooper

Age - 44.

Occupation - Contract specialist at Fort Detrick.

Hometown: Baltimore.

Where would you see Turner-Cooper? - A volunteer with the Black Achievers program at the Hagerstown YMCA since the program was reactivated in August 2004, Maureen Turner-Cooper has been involved with planning the annual gala on Saturday.

The gala will be held at the Four Points Sheraton with Tracey L. Pinson as speaker. It was Turner-Cooper who heard Pinson, director, Office of Small Business Programs, Office of Secretary of the Army, speak at Fort Detrick and thought she would be an inspiring speaker for the Black Achievers Gala.


Students in the program will dance and provide instrumental and vocal music for the gala.

Turner-Cooper has worked with the arts and culture cluster of Black Achievers, which is an interest of hers.

Through field trips to the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and attending a Hagerstown Choral Arts concert and a play last year, students are introduced to different cultural venues.

They also discuss topics such as the history of blacks in entertainment and have had a demonstration on how a camera works.

Turner-Cooper is the mother of three - a 21-year-old son who is a student at Hagerstown Community College, an 18-year-old son who is a senior at Williamsport High School and a 12-year-old daughter who is a seventh-grader at Springfield Middle School.

The Black Achievers program is for students in seventh through 12th grades. This is her youngest son's last year in Black Achievers, where he's in the technology cluster. Her daughter, who is a dancer, is enjoying her first year in the program in the arts and culture cluster.

Turner-Cooper graduated from Western Senior High School in Baltimore, an all girls high school that has produced many high-achieving women. She said one of the reasons she's been successful is because of her high school experience and wishes there were more girls-only high schools, where the focus is on education instead of boys.

Education is important to Turner-Cooper, and she earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Towson University and a master's degree in education management from Cambridge College.

She met her husband, Antoine Cooper, on a blind date and they married four months later. They have been married 24 years.

Her husband is in the military, so they moved often. They lived in Seoul, Korea, for three years and their daughter was born there.

They returned to the United States when a tumor was detected on Turner-Cooper's heart. She had to be medevaced from Korea to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She now has a permanent pacemaker.

Turner-Cooper and her husband got jobs at Fort Detrick, Turner-Cooper as a civilian employee.

As a contract specialist at Fort Detrick, Turner-Cooper negotiates government contracts to buy equipment for different agencies around the world and fund research at universities. She is also a member of the Special Emphasis Programs committee at Fort Detrick, which plans programs such as Black History Month.

Turner-Cooper also works in the Fort Detrick Equal Employment Opportunity Office one day a week.

They settled in Washington County 10 years ago and lived in St. James Village until August 2006, when they moved to Elmwood Farm Estates in Williamsport.

Three generations live in their home, including Turner-Cooper's mother. In addition to caring for her own family, Turner-Cooper is a visiting resource parent at San Mar Children's Home and has been paired up with a girl who attends weekend activities like Black Achievers and dance ministry with the family.

A recent accomplishment for Turner-Cooper and her husband is receiving their foster parent certification from the state of Maryland. The next step is to get licensed through San Mar Children's Home.

"I've always wanted to be a foster parent," said Turner-Cooper, adding that she wanted to raise her own children first.

The Black Achievers Gala is open to the public. Tickets cost $25 for ages 12 and older, $20 for children ages 4 to 11, and are on sale until Thursday or until they're sold out. For more information on the Black Achievers Gala, call the Hagerstown YMCA at 301-739-3990.

Hobbies - "I do try to have hobbies," Turner-Cooper said with a laugh. Her schedule leaves little leisure time, but she said she enjoys reading and sewing when she gets a chance, and she likes to cook and bake. Last year she sang with Hagerstown Choral Arts, but it conflicted with her daughter's dance schedule this year.

What does Turner-Cooper like best about Washington County? - "It's peaceful," she said.

Turner-Cooper said her aunt moved here in the late 1960s or early 1970s and she remembers visiting Valley Mall when it first opened, when it was in "the middle of nowhere."

"As a teen, I remember saying 'This is one place I'd never want to live,' but I fell in love with the place. I like the friendliness of the people. Baltimore is too hectic for me," Turner-Cooper said.

She said she enjoys the scenery, including the mountains and wildlife.

If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024 or e-mail

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