Irma Wallace-Cooper is an advocate, mother, longtime foster parent, coach, District 186 paraprofessional and evangelist who enjoys life. She is dedicated to pushing people to be their best. She founded the nonprofit Diamond in the Rough Outreach Inc. in 2021. She describes her purpose as being like a "doula" to help birth out boys and girls, men, women and families to discover and refine their hidden gifts, talents and skills.
Born and raised in Mississippi and the youngest of 10 children, Wallace-Cooper has been in Springfield since 1992. She has bachelor's degrees in both business administration and theology. Fostering children who struggled with life and seeing them blossom and excel through love and encouragement inspired her to form Diamond in the Rough. She wants to provide leadership, coaching, mentoring and tutoring to those in need to help build their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Wallace-Cooper felt called by God into ministry. She serves on the board of the Faith Coalition for the Common Good, which works collaboratively for racial equity, civic engagement, a fair economy and participatory decision-making. "I was rough around the edges, but my heart was pure," says Wallace-Cooper. She credits the Faith Coalition for helping her polish the edges and achieve her voice. Through training and leadership development, she built her self-confidence. She says everyone is a "diamond in the rough" and can benefit from polishing.
The first major fundraiser was at the Northfield Inn July 16. The all-volunteer organization is in the developmental stage. The goal is to launch services by the end of the year. Wallace-Cooper is working with Lincoln Land Community College to create student internship opportunities. "We are here to work with kids and build a better community," says Wallace-Cooper.