During the early 1990s, Jeni and Lee Cooper were watching an ongoing series on "20/20" about Romanian children affected by the country's brutal regime.
They were stunned by the images and stories of orphaned children - especially those with special needs - in destitute situations.
When they saw young children rocking themselves in their cribs for comfort, they decided to act.
"We just couldn't bear to see the children having no one to comfort them," Jeni said. "So we decided to contact '20/20' to get some information about adopting one of the children, and they put us in touch with the right people."
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The Davidson couple, married 14 years, has since adopted two eastern European children - both with special needs. The couple had considered adoption before they were married, but the television news program solidified their decision.
Jeni, 50, has been a stay-at-home mom for about seven years but has a bachelor's in speech pathology. Lee, 47, runs a business that sells industrial products. Both grew up in the Charlotte area and their only two children are adopted.
Ana, 11, is from Romania. She exhibits cognitive delays and is diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, which is on the autism spectrum. She's been with the Coopers since she was 4.
Natia, 9, from the Republic of Georgia, has a mild form of cerebral palsy, which causes her to have limited use of her left hand. She's been with the Coopers since she was 5.
Because of their desire to do more, the Coopers recently founded Angels in Need Inc., a nonprofit that assists abandoned, orphaned or poverty stricken children, as well as children with special needs and their families locally and abroad.
Jeni has been active in the special needs community ever since they brought Ana home in 2002, but during the last couple years she has been more involved in creating opportunities for children with special needs in the Lake Norman area.
One of her biggest projects to date was founding an area support group for families dealing with special needs. The group, PTA-Too, has been around for about two years.
"Jeni has a special heart for people in need," Lee said. "With her special needs background, she has the heart and sensitivity for it."
During the process of adopting their first daughter, they learned about House of Angels, a private orphanage and after-school facility in Romania that offers physical therapy for disabled and poverty-stricken children.
Jeni has helped the international nonprofit in various ways since adopting Ana. Aside from monetary support, she has organized fundraisers, maintained its Web site and written its periodic newsletter.
Through the help of The Red Cross, the Coopers also support an orphanage in the Republic of Georgia, where their second daughter, Natia, would have lived.
"Ever since our girls joined our family, we have seen what an incredible difference love, security and opportunity have made in their lives," Jeni said. "They have, therefore, been our inspiration to branch out to other children who are in need of these vital basics."
They founded their nonprofit because they said they also saw a need to help people in their own community.
"In our journey, we have come to know and love many families in the Lake Norman area who struggle to provide opportunities for their children with special needs in order to help them reach their full potential," Jeni said. "It is these groups that we are committed to helping and where we will initially put all of our efforts."
Marie Philippe, 48, lives in Charlotte with her two daughters. Her daughter, Chelley, 11, has autism. And her daughter, Christine, 21, helps take care of Chelley.
The single mother thinks Angels in Need will genuinely look at the varying needs of individuals and their families.
"If my daughter could speak, I think she would tell people that she knows what it is like to be alone, to be forgotten, to be ignored or, even worse, thought of to be less worthy than others walking the earth," she said. "What a commendable effort to have a group of people go beyond what they see at face value and look deeper into people's potential, people's entitlement, people's hopes and dreams.
"I commend this organization for their devotion to support those who have been 'dismissed' by society. It is comforting to know that we have such an organization in place."
The nonprofit is looking to spread the word and, hopefully, raise money.
"We know that times are financially difficult right now for many, so we are simply asking that you keep us in mind should you be looking for an outlet for sharing in the future."
The money raised will be used to provide scholarships to local children so they can attend therapeutic recreations camps or similar programs. Abroad, funds will benefit House of Angels and the Red Cross.