SOURCE: Operation HOPE, Inc.

September 07, 2007 15:46 ET

Operation HOPE Urges People to Assemble Financial and Personal Records Before Disaster Strikes

In Honor of National Preparedness Month, HOPE Coalition America Provides Free Emergency Financial First-Aid Kits (EFFAKs) for Individuals and Families

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - September 7, 2007) - Operation HOPE, a financial literacy and empowerment nonprofit, today announced that it will provide free Emergency Financial First-Aid Kits (EFFAKs) and Preparation & Recovery Seminars to help Americans prepare for the challenges they might face after a disaster or personal emergency. The EFFAK, a user friendly, fill-in-the-blank document, is available through HOPE Coalition America (HCA) online at or toll-free at 800-480-2520 as FEMA document #532. The document and accompanying seminar will be offered as free consumer resources both during the month of September and in the future.

"Operation HOPE is recognizing National Preparedness Month, September 2007, by encouraging individuals and families to complete an Emergency Financial First-Aid Kit. By filling out an EFFAK before an emergency or disaster occurs, you can ensure that you have available all the general and financial information you will need to start the recovery process. You might not realize it now, but to rebuild your life after a catastrophe such as Katrina or any other natural disaster, you'll need to have immediate access to information that is normally destroyed or not accessible, like insurance policies, copies of personal identification, account numbers, prescriptions, birth certificates and pictures of ruined furniture. The EFFAK was designed to help citizens prepare for such an event," says John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO.

During Financial Preparedness Month, EFFAK seminars are being held in Louisiana, Mississippi, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York City. Anyone interested in hosting an emergency preparedness seminar at their business or community agency is urged to call 877-592-4673 toll-free, and ask for HOPE Coalition America (use prompt 246 for calls after 5:30 pm PDT) to schedule a seminar.

Longtime school teacher turned HCA Program Coordinator, Pamella Snyder, believes in being prepared for the worst situation possible -- be it financial or physical -- and gives instruction to Gulf States residents on how to avoid being caught unprepared. "I'll say it again; it could happen to anyone. Whether it's a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or fire, take a hour or two of your time this month and fill out an EFFAK; I'll even walk you through it," says Snyder, a Katrina survivor whose home was reduced to a pile of rubble after the storm. "If we'd had a completed EFFAK, we could have rebuilt our home more quickly. Not having records of our collective account and personal information made rebuilding our lives a nightmare. While we can't prevent natural disasters, we can take steps to prepare for them," she asserts.

To date, HCA has assisted some 85,000 individuals affected by the hurricanes of 2005 through Project Restore HOPE, the nonprofit's initiative response to Katrina. This number continues to grow. Formed as Operation HOPE's financial emergency preparedness and recovery division, HCA's partners include FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. The division offers free financial information and guidance on emergency budgeting and payment strategies known as "economic triage" in times of emergency or disaster.

EFFAK offers easy step-by-step instructions for how to protect personal assets and financial information, and reduce the challenges associated with emergencies and disasters. In 2005, the document became a registered federal government document, listed as FEMA publication #532. The EFFAK is the first free emergency financial reconstruction and economic recovery guide for disaster victims.

About Hope Coalition America

As the Financial readiness and recovery arm of financial literacy nonprofit Operation HOPE, HOPE Coalition America employees and volunteers provide individuals, families and businesses the necessary guidance to increase their awareness and ability survive and recover from disaster in the shortest time possible. To date, HCA has provided guidance and assistance to 14,690 homeowners, a recovery plan to 12,452 homeowners, on-going financial guidance to 16,648 homeowners, and educated 14,516 individuals in 799 Preparedness & Recovery seminars.

About Operation HOPE

Operation HOPE, America's financial literacy and empowerment leader, operates with more than 400 private sector partners, 1,500 nonprofit and school partners, and 100 government partners, in 30 U.S. major markets and South Africa. Through its global initiatives and three principal programs, Banking on Our Future, HOPE Coalition America, and HOPE Centers, Operation HOPE has raised more than $400 million for its "silver rights" mission to make free enterprise and capitalism relevant and accessible to underrepresented and disenfranchised communities.

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