BATON ROUGE, LA) - Friday, November 18, 2005 - Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and Operation HOPE's founder and CEO John Bryant today invited banking, finance, accounting, insurance and credit union professionals in Louisiana to be part of the first economic recovery initiative for hurricane victims, Project Restore HOPE.
The Governor recently partnered with Operation HOPE to implement Project Restore HOPE in Louisiana. The program is managed through HOPE's economic recovery and response division HOPE Coalition America, and offers registered disaster victims one-on-one financial counseling and advice through on-the-ground assistance, toll-free financial help lines, informational resources and online case management.
"Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have caused destruction in Louisiana incomparable to any event in our state or nation's history. As a result, we know that hundreds of thousands of Louisiana citizens desperately need financial help," Governor Blanco said. "To help these families recover and make sound financial choices, Project Restore HOPE needs at least 5,000 financial volunteers nationwide over the next 6 to 12 months. I'm proud that Louisiana's financial community is taking the lead in this effort."
Financial counsel and assistance provided by Project Restore HOPE's "HOPE Corps volunteers" includes, but is not limited to:
- Help obtaining lost or destroyed financial documents and personal identification
- Emergency budget guidance
- Emergency credit management
- Assistance with deferring mortgage payments
- Assistance with working with creditors
- Referrals to government or private agencies for loans and financial assistance
- Insurance claims assistance
- Last month, John Bryant met with Governor Blanco to counsel her on strategies for mid- to long-term economic recovery, to help survivors recoup equity lost in property, other assets and housing, as well as helping survivors return to work.
"The recovery process is far from over. As victims recover from the loss of loved ones, troubled health, and the destruction of homes, workplaces, automobiles and their general ways of life, they are now faced with a challenge to survive financially, a challenge that may seem insurmountable to many and has a much longer road toward resolution," Bryant said. "We are here to help make that transition a manageable process, but we need experience and knowledge from people in the financial fields to make our program that much more effective."
Governor Blanco is asking the state's financial community to consider making a commitment of providing 25 or more volunteers to the initiative on an as-available basis for the next 6 to 12 months.
"I want to thank John Bryant, Ambassador Young and Operation HOPE for taking such a strong personal interest in Louisiana. I also want to thank Governor Blanco for her leadership during these extraordinary times," said Peter Gwaltney, Chief Executive Officer of the Louisiana Bankers Association. "Bankers across Louisiana have worked with thousands of hurricane evacuees and victims, and we know first-hand the difficult issues facing many of our fellow citizens. Bankers want to help individuals and families navigate through the difficult personal financial issues they're facing, and we look forward to doing this in cooperation with John Bryant and Operation HOPE."
HOPE Coalition America is currently recruiting full-time, part-time and case specific HOPE Corps volunteers; with banking, insurance, credit union, finance, legal and accounting backgrounds, to provide free financial counseling and support at:
- Financial Help Line call centers
- Disaster Recovery Centers throughout the State of Louisiana;
- Online through a virtual desktop economic case management system. "Virtual" HOPE Corps volunteers can provide assistance to victims from any location via the Internet or phone.
Since the advent of the devastating storms, more than 3,100 survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have already received help from Project Restore HOPE.
For assistance, survivors can call 1-888-388-HOPE (4673) or can visit online at www.operationhope.org
Louisiana Recovery Authority
The Louisiana Recovery Authority is the planning and coordinating body that will assist in implementing the Governor's vision for the recovery of Louisiana. The authority will identify and prioritize the short- and long-term needs of the recovery. The authority will seek out and value local input as it plans and implements the recovery.
About Operation HOPE, Inc
Operation HOPE, Inc. (HOPE) is America's first nonprofit social investment bank and a national provider of financial literacy and economic empowerment programs. HOPE works to bring self-sufficiency and a sustained spirit of revitalization to America's inner-city communities. At the core of HOPE's mission to eradicate poverty and empower the wealthless is a movement to establish "silver rights" or the right to financial literacy, access to capital, and equality of opportunity for the underserved. HOPE and its programs can be found online at www.operationhope.org, www.bankingonourfuture.org , and www.hopecoalitionamerica.org.