PRESS RELEASE

Capuano Joins Ralph Cooper at African American Summit

July 19, 2004

On Thursday July 15th, Congressman Mike Capuano joined Dorchester resident Ralph Cooper at the Second Annual African American Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.

This day-long summit was hosted by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Congressman Capuano nominated Mr. Cooper, who is the Executive Director of the Roxbury-based Veterans Benefits Clearinghouse and the honorary "Mayor of Dorchester", to participate in this summit. Mr. Cooper joined African-American leaders from all over the country to share thoughts about issues important to African American families. Participants exchanged ideas on topics ranging from job creation and the economy, to voting rights and international relations.

"Mr. Cooper is a tireless advocate for veterans in the Greater Boston area, as his years of service illustrate. His work at the Veterans Benefits Clearinghouse has helped improve the lives of so many veterans and their dependents that it is difficult to count them all. His work in the community and the perspective that he offers made him an ideal choice to participate in this summit," stated Congressman Capuano.

Mr. Cooper founded the Veterans Benefits Clearinghouse in 1977 to serve Vietnam veterans of color upon their return to civilian life. Under Mr. Cooper's leadership, the agency has expanded its focus over the years, and now serves approximately 4,000 needy families annually. Services offered include employment training, housing services for families, youth services and counseling.

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Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208