St. James School honors a long-time resident and organizer with its first annual community service award. 

Ms. Cooper is the type of person who never gives up. She is always fighting to make our neighborhood a safer, better place.” That’s how Agustina, a 5th grader at St. James School, characterized Rose Cooper in a recent speech honoring the recipient of the school’s 1st annual community service award.

The ceremony, held at Christ Church in Old City over the holidays, honored those instrumental to the founding of the school as well as service to the Allegheny West neighborhood.

As regular EFL readers know, Rose has been instrumental to many neighborhood improvements through her work as president of the Ridge Allegheny Hunting Park Civic Association (RAH).

From street lighting, public transit initiatives, and mural installations to the DiBruno’s Bros. Neighborhood Kitchen and the townhouse/apartment complex now being built near Laurel Hill cemetery, Rose has played a leading role.

We caught up with her recently to congratulate her and ask a few questions:

How was the ceremony?

I was really surprised. I didn’t know I’d be receiving an award. But it was so nice, the ceremony, the beautiful old church. And the award was a map of the school grounds and the Allegheny neighborhood in a pretty frame. It was very special. I was so touched, I forget exactly what I said when I got it (laughs) but I was grateful. They do such good things at the school. They’ve been really good for our neighborhood.

How long have you lived in the neighborhood?

28 years. I wasn’t really looking to move here but I used to drop off my kids at a daycare nearby and it gave me a chance to really get to know the area and the people. Didn’t take long for me to start looking for a house.

Have you always been a community organizer?

Not officially (laughs). I’ve always been a community type person. Even before I got involved with RAH, I’ve always been the kind that gets out and talks to neighbors. I like to find out what’s going on and keep people informed about the latest in the neighborhood. I’m not the kind that just stays in my house.

So how did you get involve with RAH?

I used to go to meetings just to find out what was going on and one day Ralph Wynder (former leader of the 38th Democratic Ward) told me my neighbors picked me as a committee person to represent the neighborhood. I did that for a few years and when the president’s spot opened up, some neighbors nominated me. It’s been about 6 years now I’ve been doing it.

Name three things you love about your neighborhood

I love that people here will talk to each other no matter what. We can disagree — sometimes a lot — and still keep talking about it.

There’s also great community spirit. We have block parties, cleanup days and other volunteer events where everybody’s coming together to make our neighborhood better or just have fun.

The last thing would be the kids and seniors. I love everybody, but our kids and seniors really get me. The kids are very respectful and friendly. They’re also motivated to do projects, whether its for school or the neighborhood. And their parents are always pitching in to help.

What’s something you wish more people knew about RAH?

We’re eager to work with other communities around us. Ridge Avenue can be a beautiful stretch from Allegheny West to East Falls if we just work together. You always get more done that way.

With the apartments & townhomes being built in the area — what would you like to say to the new neighbors headed to your neighborhood? 

I’d like them to get involved in the community, whether it’s volunteer events or community meetings or block parties. I want them to feel welcome and know how good their neighbors are.

Rose continues to work with local businesses and residents to improve her community. She’s too modest to cite her own accomplishments, so we decided to print Agustina’s presentation speech in full —

Transcript of Agustina’s Award Presentation Speech

“Good evening. My name is Agustina and I am in the 5th grade at St. James School.

Tonight, I am going to speaking about a woman who has been working hard to make my community a stronger place for many years — Ms. Rosalie Cooper.

Ms. Cooper is the President of R-A-H, the Ridge, Allegheny, Hunting Park Neighborhood Association. It’s a small neighborhood — one that many don’t pay much attention to — but A LOT happens here. Ms. Cooper is always the person to make things happen.

Back in 2008, she joined forces with Dr. Audrey Evans and Father Sean Mullen on an important project…. The founding of my school, St. James School.

Back then, not many people had even heard of St. James School yet – and believe it or not, not all of our neighbors thought it was a great idea. Ms. Cooper helped change all that. She spread the word about St. James School and got the entire neighborhood excited about a brand new school.

To tell you the truth, St. James School might have never opened, if it weren’t for Ms. Cooper.

Ms. Cooper also helped organize a number of important projects for the neighborhood, including:

  • City Camp
  • Reading programs
  • Neighborhood clean up days
  • Resurrecting Sunday Mass at the Church of St. James the Less, and
  • Beautifying the neighborhood

Ms. Cooper is the type of person who never gives up. She is always fighting to make our neighborhood a safer, better place. She cares about all the kids in the neighborhood as if they were her own, and is always working to give them more opportunities to succeed.

Ms. Cooper, I want to thank you for being a part of St. James School since the very beginning. Thank you for believing in my school, and working to give my classmates and me a better future. Thank you for making great education possible right in my backyard.

We are so lucky to have your friendship.”

Congratulations Rose and best of luck as your neighborhood continues to grow!

What’s St. James?

We’re surprised how often we hear that question. The innovative neighborhood school, located only a few minutes away near Laurel Hill cemetery, opens doors for low-income youth by providing a high quality private school education.

The school’s focus on self-sufficiency is evident in the garden, beehives, and live chickens on the grounds. Its 100+ year old walls house a neighborhood kitchen by one of Philadelphia’s most upscale markets, DiBruno Brothers.

To discover more about the school and see their beautiful 19th century church (which is an exact recreation of St. Michael’s, a 13th century English gothic church), check out some of their upcoming events.

  • Save the Date! Dr. Audrey Evans Scholarship Benefit; Tuesday, May 16, 6PM; The Union League of Philadelphia; Honoring The Rev. Sean E. Mullen, Keith Leaphart, D.O., Hon. Gregory P. Montanaro
  • Join St. James School’s Head of School for a 20-minute tour followed by lunch at the DiBruno Bros. Neighborhood Kitchen. 11:30AM to 12:30PM. RSVP at
  • Weekly School Mass at the Church of St. James the Less. 8AM
  • Night Prayer each Wednesday and Sunday night. 9-9:30PM


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