Get Help Now Pennsylvania

News Release Issued by the Office of Governor Edward G. Rendell
June 22, 2009

Ed Novak, Dept. of Banking

Mia DeVane, Governor's Office

Attorneys, financial pros to offer help to consumers in crisis

HARRISBURG - Governor Edward G. Rendell today launched the "Get Help Now, Pennsylvania" volunteer initiative to provide financial and legal help to the many Pennsylvanians who still face difficult situations while the economic recovery takes hold.

"President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have asked all governors and first ladies to join them in a service initiative designed to help our fellow citizens in need," Governor Rendell said. "Midge and I have designed a service plan to help those who are struggling financially, and we have asked Pennsylvania's legal and financial professionals to step forward in their communities to meet a goal of 2,000 volunteers."

In a statewide webcast, Governor Rendell announced that he has enlisted attorneys, banking and mortgage professionals, and financial analysts who are knowledgeable in the area of finance, credit, and/or bankruptcy to serve on help desks in many of the county bar association offices.

Under the initiative, volunteers will provide assistance to consumers on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 1 to 6 p.m., starting July 7 and culminating on Sept. 11 with a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Consumers may learn more about the program and locations by visiting or calling the Pennsylvania Bar Association, toll-free, at 1-888-799-4557.

Many Pennsylvanians -- like other Americans -- are struggling financially due to the national recession. Nearly 115,000 Pennsylvania homeowners were delinquent with their mortgages in the first quarter of 2009. In 2008, there were 42,949 foreclosures across the state - an increase of 127 percent from 2007. As foreclosures continue to rise, so does credit card debt and bankruptcies.

"Midge and I are grateful that members of the legal and banking communities will provide a clearly needed service, committing their skills and their time to help others," the Governor added. "Our goal, echoing that of President Obama, is to begin a sustained, collaborative and focused effort to help Pennsylvanians participate in a unified economic recovery. On September 11, we will mark what we -- and others across the nation -- have accomplished in the way of service to others."

Get Help Now PA is a collaborative effort of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bankers Association, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, the Mortgage Bankers Association of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Association of Mortgage Brokers, the Pennsylvania Financial Services Association, the Office of the First Lady and Pennsylvania Department of Banking.


EDITOR'S NOTE #1: Below is the text of the White House letter to Governor & Judge Rendell:

May 28, 2009

Dear Governor and Judge Rendell,

As you well know, our nation is at a crossroads. Facing record unemployment rates across the country and shaken with uncertainty, our nation has responded with a call to action and a firm belief that we will overcome these tough times and create a brighter day. With your help, we have made slow but steady progress towards recovery, but we simply must do more.

We all know that solutions will not come from Washington alone. Lasting solutions will require us to unite as a nation, committing together to put our country back on track. Americans can find common purpose by working together to address our nation's problems. In this spirit, President and Mrs. Obama are announcing a nationwide service initiative, the beginning of a sustained, collaborative, and focused effort to help Americans of all ages participate in a unified economic recovery.

Mrs. Obama will officially kick off this service initiative on Monday, June 22. That same day, Cabinet Secretaries will travel across the county to lead service efforts throughout the nation and highlight organizations that will be, participating in this initiative. The service initiative will conclude with a National Day of Service on September 11th, 2009. This National Day of Service offers a chance to both celebrate the service to our country over the previous two and a half months and to honor the Americans who died on September 11th, 2001 by recommitting to serve in the future.

I would like to invite your family and your staff to lead this charge by committing to serve your community in a sustainable way, beginning with our launch on June 22nd and continuing throughout the summer. We will be launching a new website to track volunteer opportunities as well as local progress: This website will track not just the number of hours we are serving but the qualitative differences we are making in our communities.

As Governor, you have dedicated your life to serving your community and your state. I am asking you to take that one step further, to take part in a national effort to highlight the importance of lifelong community service to people of all ages across the country. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to showcase the causes that are close to your heart and let the citizens of your state know that service to others is an important part of a life well lived.

We are asking Americans for more than just a single day of service; we are asking them to commit to ongoing ethic of serving their communities and to take ownership of the future of our nation. I hope the President and Mrs. Obama can count on you to join them and the rest of the country in this pledge of service. Thank you so much for your support and participation.

Valerie B. Jarrett
Senior Advisor to the President

June 22 - Sept 11, 2009
This is an extraordinary moment in time. As Americans, we have a unique opportunity to come together and solve our nation's most vexing problems. In this spirit, President Obama is announcing a nationwide service initiative, the beginning of a sustained, collaborative, and focused effort to meet community needs and make service a way of life for all Americans.

Focus: The Economic Recovery
The Service initiative will empower Americans to participate in the economic recovery by:
-Promoting clean energy, energy efficiency, and public land restoration.
-Supporting education and literacy for all Americans.
-Increasing health care access, public health awareness, and prevention.
-Providing community renewal to areas hardest hit by the economic crisis.

Purpose: A Call to Service
The Service initiative will take traditional calls to service further by:
-Putting volunteers on a path to sustained service.
-Asking volunteers to step up and become volunteer organizers by identifying unmet needs in their community, developing their own service projects, and engaging others who are interested in the same issue area.
-Providing easy-to-use tools for volunteers to develop their own service projects, set outcome-oriented goals, and track their community impact.
-Developing creative partnerships with a broad and diverse group of stakeholders, including nonprofits;
-Faith-based groups, issue groups, labor unions, educational institutions, businesses, corporations, foundations, and all levels of government.

We aim to use the convening power of the federal government to promote and highlight new and existing service projects, encourage volunteers to stay involved in their communities over time, and empower people from all walks of life to take a leadership role. The Corporation for National and Community Service will be the key coordinating federal partner, working with the White House, federal agencies, and hundreds of non-profit and community groups.

The Challenge: Help Needed, Capacity Stretched
At a time when volunteers' help is most needed, the capacity of traditional service organizations to absorb volunteers has been stretched thin. To help meet growing social needs resulting from the economic downturn, the Service initiative aims to both engage new volunteers in expanding the impact of existing organizations and to encourage "do-it-yourself" projects.

The Service initiative -- spanning 81 days, or just under 12 weeks -- will officially kick off June 22 at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service. The White House will make a public announcement in early June, allowing adequate lead time for organizations to post opportunities and prepare to absorb new volunteers. The Service initiative will culminate with a National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11, 2009. The culmination will provide an opportunity to recognize the summer's accomplishments, honor those who died on September 11, 2001 by serving in their memory, and encourage Americans to make an ongoing commitment to service.