Clinton_smith_bryant_1Memories — former President Bill Clinton, HOPE Coalition America director Fred D. Smith and I visit the storm ravaged area little less than two years ago, announcing our plans (the Clinton Foundation, Operation HOPE and HOPE Partner H & R Block amongst others) for our now successful efforts to help survivors of Katrina here.

I am here again today in New Orleans, Louisiana, speaking at a White House Office of Faith Based and Community Based Conference on Katrina recovery efforts here and throughout the Gulf Coast for my friend Jay Hein, director of the faith-based office and an assistant to President George W. Bush. I am proud to report, thanks to an original $750,000 grant from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund our HOPE Coalition America emergency economic disaster preparedness, response and recovery division has delivered the following results to and for survivors of Katrina:

Operation HOPE and HOPE Coalition America has assisted over 100,000 individuals and small businesses affected by Katrina through 375 community preparedness and recovery seminars, assisting 3,877 small businesses and assisting 19,919 homeowners in Mississippi.  Our national HOPE Call Center has received 55,050 incoming calls.

Operation HOPE provides financial preparedness and recovery information and guidance to individuals through faith-based organizations, non-profits, community organizations through coordination as a member of NVOAD (National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) (Fred Smith, our director for HOPE Coaition America, was recently elected to the National Board of Directors for NVOAD), Citizen Corps and the California Citizens Corps Council (Fred Smith is Chairman of this group).

We also have memorandums of understanding with the American Red Cross, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to assist in their preparation of mitigation and recovery activities.  After disasters we deploy employees and volunteers to assist individuals, businesses and communities recover.

Operation HOPE has offices in Louisiana and Mississippi, opened after Hurricane Katrina, that are active in the long-term recovery processes.

Through a grant from the Bush Clinton Katrina Foundation, Project Restore HOPE has provided critical financial expertise to Hurricane Katrina survivors in order to increase economic and social development in the aftermath of the hurricane.  We implemented a three-tier approach in our response efforts.  The approach included case management, financial counseling and literacy programs for youth and adults and small business recovery.

Operation HOPE provided clients with financial triage services through its network of financial partners and volunteers.  These resources included:

  • Emergency one-on-one credit management
  • Assisting individuals and families with deferring mortgage payments
  • Assisting individuals, families and small businesses with working with creditors
  • Assistance obtaining copies of destroyed financial records
  • Victim insurance claim assistance
  • Assistance completing the EFFAK (Emergency Financial First Aid Kit)
  • Home inspections and the repair process 

HOPE Coalition America implemented Small Business Outreach to provide socially and economically disadvantaged persons and businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina with technical assistance.  Individuals and small businesses were provided budget counseling, cash flow management, accounting/financial projections, credit counseling, mortgage and business lending counseling, insurance guidance, and post-funding counseling. These activities were provided through one-on-one coaching and community seminars.

To date, 3,877
small businesses and non-profits have been contacted and 616 were enrolled in client management. The small businesses are offered technical assistance in a) business plan development; b) accounting/financial projections; c) cash flow management; d) start-up business training; e) budget counseling; f) credit counseling; and g) QuickBooks training. In partnership with the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, extensive free one-on-one coaching in-office and at business sites took place during the week of November 6-9, 2007. The four-day event kicked off with a small business BOOST luncheon that was attended by seventy-five participants. The luncheon was sponsored by Capital One Bank who has agreed to refer their small business clients to our program for technical assistance. OHI and North Carolina Association of CPAs assisted 180 small businesses and non-profits through one-on-one coaching and three community seminars. Further assistance is planned for small businesses and non-profits utilizing consultants in accounting, marketing and legal assistance.

Our Program Coordinators have reached over 38,000 individuals and families through seminars and/or by attending community groups, city council meetings, recovery organization meetings and many other settings. Not only were we able to assist individuals through the personal contact method but many had an opportunity through our national call center to be provided one-on-one counseling by a financial volunteer from the banking industry. Much time was spent with financial budgeting, evaluating whether to rebuild or not, selection of contractors, how to inventory homes for damage and discussion of contractor fraud.

Through our work in the affected communities, Operation HOPE received a contract to provide technical assistance to 50 small businesses and small grants of up to $3,000 for improvements and to enhance business viability (Technical Assistance to Small Firms through the Louisiana Department of Economic Development).

Through our collaboration with the faith-based community, local residents, HOPE Global Spokesman civil rights icon Andrew Young and others in the Project Restore Faith 360 initiative, Operation HOPE partnered with 44 ministers to provide adult financial literacy information to congregations at 19 churches in the Gulf Coast.

Another significant assistance program is our Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline through which we assist homeowners who have or anticipate problems making home loan payments.  Through this hotline, we have received 23,935 calls and the volume is increasing daily.

This free service is available by calling          877-592-HOPE       .

Onward, with HOPE

John Hope Bryant

chairman, Operation HOPE

vice chairman, U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, and chairman, Under-Served Committee.

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