KISH: Tell us about you…
Y. Rená Cooper: I am an advocate, author, influencer and speaker. Born and raised in the Chicagoland area. I survived 15yrs of Domestic Abuse and suicide attempts.
KISH: What is your dream and how will accomplishing your dream benefit you and others?
Y. Rená Cooper: My dream is to see victims/survivors life their best life AFTER. What is after? After is life following any traumatic event. For me it was surviving abuse and surviving 4 gunshot wounds to my lower back. I started 4 My Voice Matters, NFP to educate and bring awareness to domestic violence and suicide prevention. Through my organization I not only assist persons coming out of abusive situations or lend my voice to the voiceless, but I also help them see that life in the after is so much better. I give them tools needed to recover and restart. I host events, speak when the opportunity arises and raise funds to support other organizations who already have shelters or counseling centers in place for survivors while I continue to build.
KISH: Who or what inspired you to pursue this dream?
Y. Rená Cooper: Well, I had to find it within myself to pursue this dream. After surviving and then hearing about a close friend losing her life to domestic violence, I began to share my story. In sharing my story people began to privately contact me and share how they wanted to be strong like me and come out of abusive situations. With the push of my best friends and them helping me realize that I was destined to help others I began to visualize what that would look like. While I was in my relationship, what could I have done differently? If resources were available what would I need and how would I get them? Who could I TRUST with my situation and not be JUDGED? How do I get past embarrassment and get the help I needed and not be AFRAID? So, I began to build on these questions first.
KISH: What challenges have you encountered while pursuing your dream?
Y. Rená Cooper: They are both taboo subjects. Most people do not want to talk about DV and suicide. So, for me it is just having the platform to have people begin to be more open to listen with an open mind and not be quick to judge those who are in abusive relationships or having mental health challenges. As a people it is already known that we usually do not advocate for anything unless it is personal to us. Meaning that it had directly or indirectly affected us. Well, I would like people to come out of that mindset. If there is a need, we as a community, nation and even the world have a responsibility to do all we can to be educated or educate and then assist. As the organization grows, I want to be able to be a strong link to communities all over the United States and even in other countries. Making the proper connections are key. Placing myself in the right place at the correct time is crucial. And those places are platforms like yours, podcasts, social media, live events or training, etc.
KISH: Who or what inspired you to keep pushing regardless of the challenges you’ve encountered?
Y. Rená Cooper: My mother who was my biggest cheerleader (she passed away in 2017). She always pushed me and came to all events in the two years she was able to witness 4 My Voice Matters being birthed. Fertamia Smith, my friend who was gunned down by her abuser and did not survive. Trinity Ann Banks my bonus daughter who took her life in September 2018 due to being bullied and other issues. 4 My Voice Matters has a branch of the organization named in her honor T.A.B. My niece who is an amputee, she shows me that even when challenged you have the strength and power to adjust and keep living. And last but certainly not least my best friends Stephen and Kenqwonna Clarke who push me, motive me, support me and pray for me. When I want to give up and I feel as if I am not making a difference, they stay at me and remind me that I have purpose and God did not leave me here not to share my story and do the work of helping others.
KISH: Please provide final thoughts/advice for others by finishing this sentence… dream.
Y. Rená Cooper: I heard many years ago that we should dream in color. Vibrant colors cater to happiness and movement. If you dream freedom, you can have it with movement. However, in order to move you must make a conscious decision to want to move then do it. Yes, we may fall, yes you run into an issue, but you will not know if you do not try. You must get back up or work through the issue. The bigger the dream the more movement is required. I encourage people to write the dream down then put action to it.