CooperRiis Healing Community celebrates 10 years

Published 11:06 pm Sunday, July 7, 2013

CooperRiis co-founders Don and Lisbeth Cooper during a recent celebration of the community’s 10th anniversary. (photo submitted)

CooperRiis co-founders Don and Lisbeth Cooper during a recent celebration of the community’s 10th anniversary. (photo submitted)

CooperRiis is the realization of a dream of co-founders Don and Lisbeth Cooper: to create a place where people heal, have purpose in life and gain personal empowerment.

It grew out of their experience with a family member whose life was impeded by mental health challenges.

CooperRiis is a non-profit and through the generosity of many, it opened with 25 staff and four residents on a farm in Mill Spring, and has since opened a second facility in the historic Montford section of Asheville, N.C. and built a thriving ‘Community Program’ for graduates.

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CooperRiis now serves more than 100 residents with mental health challenges and secondary addiction issues who are supported by a staff of over 150. With an annual budget of $10 million, the organization is able to provide more than $2.5 million a year in scholarships and has helped more than 650 individuals and families to regain fulfilled and functional lives.

According to Lisbeth and Don, “Our lives have been enriched beyond measure by our immersion into the CooperRiis Dream.  We know that other philanthropists also have personal knowledge about the need to improve mental health care and we hope that in sharing our dream we might awaken theirs.

Active, engaged philanthropy arises from the ‘love of humankind’ and we built CooperRiis based on that love and kindness.”
One graduate wrote upon departing: “Thank you, CooperRiis, you saved my life.”

Several former residents have recently achieved milestones in their lives after CooperRiis, including one recently graduating with her college degree in engineering, another working as an artist in Asheville and a third who is now teaching as a college professor, married and has two children. Several of our former residents have also come back to CooperRiis as full-time employees after a period away from the program.

CooperRiis is a place where the despair that accompanies mental health challenges becomes manageable. At the healing community one can dare to dream again, rebuild a balanced life, relationships and purpose. Whole families are helped in this process through Family Education Weekends and an online recovery education program.

“I laughed, cried and felt another layer of aloneness peel off and another layer of hope build in my heart as a result of participating in this experience,” said one family member during a Family Education Weekend.

“[We] will always be grateful to CooperRiis and its wonderful team for restoring the light in [our daughter’s] eyes and hope in her voice,” said another.

Visit to learn more or call executive director Virgil Stucker at 828-899-4673 or email him at

– article submitted by Stephanie McMahon