By Tykesha Spivey
WI Contributing Writer
Friday, May 13, 2005; Page 1
Hundreds turned out to welcome Operation HOPE Inc. (OHI), a national non-profit self-help organization, to the Anacostia neighborhood on May 4 at a ribbon cutting ceremony that was followed by a bus tour of community revitalization projects east of the River.
The new HOPE Center located at 2509 Good Hope Road, SE is the seventh of its kind in the country and the first to open on the East Coast. According to John Bryant, founder and chairman/CEO of OHI, it is equipped with a cyber café and will offer free financial seminars, digital literacy classes, and entrepreneurship programs, among other resources. May partners came together to make the center possible, including E*TRADE FINANCIAL, who made a $2.5 million commitment.
D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry said the opening is a step in the right direction, “Welcome to East of the Anacostia River. You are here at the right time in the right place. We need Operation HOPE. We are first class citizens in this community and we deserve first class treatment. Help and hope are here and now prosperity is on the way.”
Mayor Anthony Williams and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton were also among the many notable speakers to welcome the organization to the community. Williams called the effort the result of “great partnerships.”
“The HOPE Center team is excited about and humbled by the opportunity to serve residents east of the River and in the Washington metropolitan area,” D.C. Hope Center Manager DeLise Bernard said.
During his speech, Bryant explained how Operation HOPE can lead to positive changes in the Anacostia community, “The only way to social justice is social economics. In a capitalist society without true access to capital, this is truly modern day slavery. There are members of the Republican and Democratic parties but we are members of the ‘Get it Done’ party. If you want to help me eradicate poverty in my community, then you are my friend. We cannot afford to be partisan when our communities are in crisis.”
After the ceremonial ribbon cutting and tour of the new facility, HOPE officials lead a bus tour through Wards 7 and 8. According to bank leaders, the purpose of the tour was to highlight economic opportunities in the area and included visits to the Camp Simms project, the Wheeler Creek Estates, the ARC, and the Skyland Shopping Center.
Although Wednesday was the official grand opening, Operation HOPE has been doing business in the area since 2004. According to reports, in a little over a year, the non-profit bank has provided more than $2 million in loans to D.C. residents. Tosha Link, a small business owner, said she received a $10,000 loan from the financial center. The entrepreneur used the funds to start Bara Business Solutions, a business supply center located blocks from Howard University.
The first Operation HOPE was founded in California in1992, shortly after the Los Angeles Riots. Today, the organization has more than 250 partners nationwide, and the new Anacostia branch has 80 partners, which includes a number of government agencies. The partners pay an annual fee and have their employees volunteer to give seminars.
Operation HOPE is touted as America’s first nonprofit social investment bank and a national provider of economic empowerment programs. The organization’s mission is to abolish poverty through education and promotion of property ownership.
For more information, visit http://www.operationhope.org