Well, thanks to a $1 million plus commitment from my friend and Operation HOPE national board member, Don McGrath and Bank of the West, along with a $300,000 grant for our Inner City Cyber Cafe -- located within the Oakland HOPE Center and other HOPE Centers just like it around the country -- from Operation HOPE national board member Lora Watts and SBC Communications, there is now a lot of vision realized in the great city of Oakland, California!
On a cold and rainy Thursday morning, January 13th, 2005, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, California Insurance Commissioner (and my dear friend) John Garamendi, Operation HOPE national board member and president of Neighborhood Housing Services of America, the legendary Mary Lee Widener, and a host of other dignitaries and leaders from what we at Operation HOPE call the "three leg stool of HOPE," or government, community and the private sector, SHOWED UP at the newly built HOPE Center, Oakland facility for our ribbon cutting ceremony. It was genuinely a great day in Oakland, California!
At and within the walls of our HOPE Center network we convert check cashing customers into banking customers, renters into owners, small business dreamers into small business owners, minimum wage earners into living wage earners with new job skills -- and the economically uneducated into the economically empowerment. Moving people up and our of poverty. A "hand up, and not a hand out," is the Operation HOPE way!
I would like to take a moment to thank all the special people and organizations that helped to make this dream real to and for the residents of Oakland.
People and organizations such as Deborah Meng and United Commercial Bank, who made a three year, $150,000 grant commitment to the HOPE Center and also donated local office space for our Banking on Our Future staffer in Oakland, Julia Brown of Charles Schwab Bank, who made a $50,000 grant commitment, and Rob Oehler and Far East National Bank that also made a financial commitment to support the Oakland HOPE Center. On the government side we thank our ONGOING partner in the Economic Development Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which made a $350,000 grant commitment to the center as well. ...And additional announcements here are yet to come! Stay tuned.
A Hero Amongst Us...
All this said, ...none of this would have happened had it not been for the tenacity, commitment and absolute leadership --- from one Art Shingleton, vice president for Bank of the West and co-chair of the Operation HOPE regional board of directors along with Joy Hoffman, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
It was Art that saw the vision for what we wanted to do, from the very start.
It was Art that encouraged us to "make the case" for a HOPE Center for Oakland to the bank, and his boss, Don McGrath.
It was Art that put his credibility on the line to make this commitment happen with and from the bank (with Don McGrath's active support of course!).
It was, and will always be Art Shingleton...that was for me and for us, what I call "the bridge for HOPE" with the bank, and ultimately for the HOPE Center, Oakland too!
Thank you Art Shingleton.... just for being you!
And of course, I could not say "thank you" without extending a very well earned one to my dear friend of 20 years, and employee of 10 years, Lance Triggs, executive vice president and chief of staff for external operations and field programs for Operation HOPE. To say that Lance "does a great job" would be an understatement.
Lance lives his mission, and as a result, has in turn made it a part of his personal purpose in life. Lance helped to build several HOPE Centers in Southern California, and was directly responsible for over seeing the build out process for this one in Oakland, California.
Bravo Lance Triggs -- bravo! We are all proud of you my friend.
HOPE in the Community
Don McGrath lives in Oakland, California, and so in many ways this was not just "simply business," but personal too. He and I both wanted to make sure we did this right in Oakland. The city deserved this investment, and the resources that only a HOPE Center provides, but there were those who suggested early into the process that "outsiders" were not welcome, nor needed. Well, I am very pleased and proud to say that the naysayers were dead wrong.
A recent meeting called by the regional board of Operation HOPE at the new HOPE Center was confirmed to capacity! Over 30 prominent local community leaders, heads of non profit organizations and representatives from the City of Oakland showed up for a meeting to brief them on our commitment, and our work, and to encourage a spirit of community partnership. Pleasantly surprised, but not shocked, the community immediately affirmed the value of what we were doing, and "bringing" as a unique value-added asset to the city with the HOPE Center, Oakland...
Furthermore, when a meeting scheduled for one hour spilled into two, and the question was asked "who would want to partner with us to help and empowerment OUR Oakland community," every hand in the room went up!
You simply don't get a better endorsement than that...
Onward Oakand, with HOPE