Nothing significant happens in life — and certainly not business life — without the personal leadership of individuals. Individuals committed to living for something larger and more important than self. And this was certainly the case with our recently announced President Clinton, Clinton Foundation and Operation HOPE partnership benefiting Katrina victims regarding their EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) benefits on this past Friday, February 3rd, 2006, in Harlem, New York in President Clinton’s offices.
Mark Ernst, chairman and chief executive officer of H & R Block, standing next to me and to the left of the President, and Arlen Gelbard, president of E Trade Financial, just right of the President, along with Lionel Savage, vice president for First American Corporation, far right, all made a significant difference in the recently announced Clinton-HOPE Partnership benefiting Katrina victims. Also not pictured here was Linda Zecher, vice president for Microsoft, who stood with us, and who developed (along with Ed Ingle, Teresa Carlson, Jim Ferguson, Philo Janus, Rob Spanswick and the entire team within Microsoft) and made available custom online virtual volunteering emergency economic disaster response counseling software to and for all HOPE Corps volunteers through Project Restore HOPE.
Arlen and E Trade has made 100 volunteers available to our HOPE Corps, and funded $500,000 for the HOPE Fund benefiting Katrina victims who in many cases were under-insured or had no insurance at all.
Lionel, Landon Taylor and FAC’s president Craig DeRoy, have all been critical in organizing the Call Center in Poway, California for Project Restore HOPE. We also thank Elizabeth Brandon, Anand Nallathambi and the chairman of First American Corporation Park Kennedy for their leadership and unflinching support.
Specifically, Mark Ernst is to be particularly applauded, along with the entire Block family — and particularly Bernie Wilson — for their extraordinary leadership in Friday’s announcement. Mark, now a member of our national board of directors, made a landmark commitment to help Katrina victims through Block. One that included a commitment of 500 volunteers from Block, the provision of 5,000 free tax preps and EITC filings (not an inexpensive investment in HOPE and people and community), a free bank account to made available to EVERY Katrina victim, nationwide, and cost free EITC filing for any and all Katrina victims that contact Operation HOPE, HOPE Coalition America and Project Restore HOPE through our toll-free line at 1-800-388 HOPE. This is truly an extraordinary commitment of leadership, and resources, from H & R Block, and this commitment of "doing well by doing good" should indeed be applauded. H & R Block, in doing this, and making this commitment with HOPE and President Clinton, has not only made a clear and unambiguous commitment to help others help themselves, they have also — in so doing — become an example for other corporate leaders to follow.
And finally, a special thank you to HOPE national board member and friend Kraig Kitchin, president and CEO of Premiere Radio Network (Clear Channel), who on little to no notice made an essential commitment to run PSA’s recorded of me and the President, post announcement, promoting both the benefits of this partnership to radio stations listened to by victims, and the opportunities for financial experts to volunteer their time on radio stations where they would tend to listen. Thank you friend… None of this will matter much if folks who need to know, don’t.
Yes, we can all find a way to "do well by doing good," and we can find a way to help individuals in need, while still giving them, and ourselves, the dignity that comes with helping others help themselves.
Onward, with HOPE