As we all know during this difficult time of COVID-19, health care workers are truly on the front lines when it comes to caring for those who have tested positive for the virus. They work long hours and give their all toward the efforts of stopping this pandemic.
Kathy Cooper, a native of Roswell, is just one of those nurses in the battle.
Born in Roswell, she lived in this town until the age of 4 when her family moved to California.
“I think of myself as being raised in Huntington Beach, California,” Cooper said, “but then we moved back to Roswell when I began my junior year at Goddard. I went one year to ENMU, moved to San Patricio, and then Ruidoso. However, Roswell was home once more when I moved back with my own family upon getting accepted into the nursing program here.”
Her dreams had once leaned more toward a creative career, but were altered in quite a significant way.
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“I always worked very hard at singing and dancing,” she said. “When I was 9 years old, I was very seriously thinking about my dancing when one night, I dropped to my knees and said a prayer, asking, ‘What should I be when I grow up?’ The answer was a nurse. I was reading the book series Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, at the time, but it just wasn’t what I had ever had in mind for my future.”
As time moved forward, it turned out that to be a professional dancer at that time, a height of 5 feet, 8 inches was necessary. Thankfully, for all the people Cooper gives so much to on a daily basis, she topped off, so to speak, at 5 feet.
“As we were thinking about moving back to Roswell, and me going back to school at age 24, I remembered that prayer and answer and chose to become a nurse,” she said. “I have been very thankful for that answer ever since. It has brought me so much joy.
“By living in Roswell, I have gotten to watch our babies grow up,” Cooper said. “I will run into the family while out shopping or eating — it has brought me many smiles. Now I am watching my second generation, and a couple of dear families starting on their third.”
When addressing this especially difficult time, Cooper spoke about how the pandemic has affected her job and daily life.
“I know how hard it is on everybody,” she said. “At Lovelace, we treasure our patients and families, and we know how difficult it is for families not to be together during these extremely hard times. We miss seeing the grandparents and our babies’ brothers and sisters.
“We want to provide excellent care and wonderful memories for our families,” Cooper said. “Each person we care for is in our hearts and we would like everyone to know that their safety is important to us. We will continue following the directions given to do the absolute best job we can.”
Besides being a skilled nurse, Cooper gives her time to the community as a member of the PEO, an organization that encourages education. She also lends her support to the Community Kitchen.
“I try to go there anytime I’m called,” she said. “I love the wonderful meals that are prepared, and the people who frequent the kitchen always brighten my day. I am so thankful for the community support that’s given, and everyone’s continued hope that we can help provide many with a much needed meal.”
Another organization that Cooper says does a great deal of work for the citizens is Community Disaster Relief Services.
“I think of Enrique Moreno, founder of the Roswell Community Disaster Relief Services, who is such a lovely person,” Cooper said. “He is doing so much to help those in need in our community. Many have done collections at work and local churches to assist this program.”
Cooper says the Correction Center in Hagerman gives handmade gifts for the babies at Lovelace’s nursery.
“They bring us bags to the nursery at Lovelace often, and we nurses have tears in our eyes every time we open those bags,” Cooper said. “They are filled with beautiful things for the babies in our nursery: Hats, stuffed animals, blankets that the men have crocheted. … We are so touched that they would spend such a great amount of time to create and give us such beautiful gifts. We have taken collections at work and at Church for the beautiful yarn they use for those gifts. It touches each of us so deeply.”
From a health care standpoint, Cooper offers advice to one and all going through this time in history together.
“My advice would be that we work together to protect all people during this time, and that we honor what has been asked of each of us,” she said. “We are blessed when we all work together to better our community; organizations, churches and neighbors working together. Right now, although we can’t be together as groups, we can still make an impact.”
Cooper cherishes her career and the years she has spent in Roswell, as well as her friends and family.
“I am just so humbled by this opportunity,” she said. “I have felt very blessed to have spent most of my adult life here in Roswell. It has been wonderful raising my children here and I feel blessed by having had very dear friends for many years, and continue to meet new friends that continually make my life better.
Cooper said even though we cannot be together during this time, there are still ways to stay in touch.
“It is lonely sometimes during this pandemic, but friends and family are just a phone call away,” she said. “It brings us joy when we go to a store or order food and we are greeted with smiling eyes and such kindness that just brightens our whole day.”
She wants her coworkers to know how grateful she is for their kindness.
“I want everyone I work with to know I will treasure them always for their kindness and gentleness when it comes to their treatment of me, and everyone else.”