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Dr. Melissa E. Thompson Coppin was born in Columbia, SC. She attended public school and the A.M.E. affiliated, Allen University. She relocated to Philadelphia and received training at Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1910, becoming the 10th African American woman physician in the nation. Dr. Coppin was the wife of Bishop Levi Coppin of the A.M.E Church. They had one daughter, Theodosia Coppin, who still resides in Philadelphia.
Dr. Coppin was a visionary, and with the aid of fellow churchwomen established Women's Christian Alliance (WCA) in 1919, at 610 South 16th Street to provide shelter to working mothers, neglected children and families migrating from the South to Philadelphia just after World War 1.
Dr. Coppin selected workers, foster parents, and homes with great care. These foster parents and homes, being a vital part of the agency, had to meet the requirements of the State and embrace the principles of the organization.
On October, 11 1922, Mrs Sarah Morgan became the first foster mother, taking into her home a baby boy, born January 15, 1922. The county provided Mrs. Morgan a small monthly grant of ($3.25) three dollars and twenty-five cents.
The year 1926 was an eventful one. In response to a request from the Juvenile Division of the Municiple Court, WCA became a child-placing ageny receiving its charter in 1926. The building had to be equipped to meet State requiremnets. Shortly after receiving its charter came the first real vision of, the possibilty becoming a reality.
Before her death in 1940, Dr. Coppin appointed Rev. Winsmore Mason as President of the WCA Board of Directors. Dr. John Graves, who was elected President by the board members replaced Rev. Mason in January 1947.