Southern Mutual Help Association received a gift of $25,000 from IberiaBank just in time for Christmas the first of many to come during future holiday seasons.
State Rep. Taylor Barras, D-New Iberia, is market president for IberiaBank. He said the working relationship between IberiaBank and Southern Mutual Help Association dates back more than 20 years, and though this is the first year the bank contributes this money, it has pledged a $25,000 annual contribution to the association from here on out.
When we established the relationship, it was centered around the potential to reach homeowners, Barras said. We get many requests to contribute money, and Southern Mutual is much more comprehensive to good homeownership.
The association, coupled with Southern Mutual Financial Services, its affiliate financial institution, is responsible for securing a number of loans to lower and middle income residents who wish to buy new homes in rural areas.
Clementine Matthews, a loan officer with Southern Mutual Financial Services, said IberiaBank has helped to make that possible by agreeing to buy $100 million in loans that belong to Southern Mutual to allow the association to continue giving loans to interested buyers.
Were comfortable because their clients that we might not normally be able to service, we can reach them through this, Barras said. Southern Mutual Financial is like a mini bank, a sister bank that can reach those that we wouldnt normally reach.
Southern Mutual became an integral part of rebuilding to low and middle income people after the storms. Theyre reaching into areas where we dont have a specific branch to service.
Lorna Bourg, SMHA executive director, said IberiaBank's pledge of $100 million over 10 years, plus the annual donations, shows a longstanding, unusual commitment to the community with IberiaBank and Southern Mutual.
The $25,000 annual donation will go toward funding for the homeownership counseling program and home maintenance programs that the association provides for the clients it services.
Marva Porter, systems operations manager for Southern Mutual, said homeownership counseling includes training and explains the process for loans, real estate agents, credit, purchasing and analyzing products for homes, building greenand other things involved in home buying.
Before the loan closes, Matthews said clients also are required to have skills transfer training,which is basic home maintenance skills like cleaning out hot water heaters and floating sheet rock.
It gives them knowledge and its cost-saving, Matthews said. Its also a preventative to prevent deterioration.
Matthews said the association has a mobile unit, also donated by IberiaBank, that goes to the homes to show them the skills.
In essence, how to get and keep a home, Bourg said.
HEATHER MILLER - THE DAILY IBERIAN