2000 - SMHA announced the creation of Southern Mutual Financial Services, Inc. (SMFS), and its plans to incorporate as a community development financial institution (CDFI.) SMFS provides affordable capital and development services to marginalized rural families to improve the quality of their lives. IBERIABANK kicked off a $3 million capital campaign with a $200,000 donation to the proposed CDFI.
2001 - SMHA co-founded SEA Corp (Sustained Excellence Alliance) and hosts the first SEA Corp conference and tour.
SMHA hosted the national Rural LISC conference, bringing nearly 300 non-profit practitioners to southern Louisiana. Conference attendees traveled through the area, learning about the challenges and successes of SMHA's work with low-income housing, family fishers, and environmental asset building.
SMFS continued to grow as Oxfam America provides leadership to foundations in the financial support of SMFS' capital campaign -- followed closely by a grant from the F.B. Heron Foundation.
2002 - Southern Mutual Financial Services received a $400,000 capital investment matching award from the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund of the United States Treasury.
2003 - SMHA published the Adventures in Citizenship book/CD Rom kit to offer educators creative tools to ignite the passion of future leaders and provide them with leadership skills essential to make democracy work and solve real-world problems.
2004 - Both the Lehrer NewsHour and the NPR Morning Edition featured SMHA on their broadcasts, as the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was being considered for revision. SMHA opposed the revisions and explained that banking partners would have little incentive to continue investing in low and moderate income communities. SMHA's and many others' campaign against the CRA revisions resulted in modified uniform guidelines that reduced the regulatory burden on smaller banks, while maintaining a level of scrutiny based on a bank's community investment, service, and lending.
SMHA organized its first ever Great Gator Race Fundraiser. The event was such a success that it became an annual tradition, with different attractions featured each year—the Gator Race Gala, Gator Race coloring pages in local schools, petting zoo, live music, Gator Handler, and Gator Stomp 'n Chomp—all proceeds have helped SMHA in its mission to build healthy, prosperous rural communities.
SMHA published a trainer's manual titled Make Change Happen: See, Believe, Do. The manual and its accompanying CD were created to help ordinary citizens make connections between policy and their everyday lives, recognize their own power, and learn how they can create, change, and enforce these policies.
2005 - Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck coastal Louisiana one right after the other, leaving behind them an unprecedented path of destruction. SMHA began "planning on the move," using the "power of the story" to institute a response unlike the government—efficient, free of burdensome paperwork, personalized, and helping people help themselves to restore families and small businesses to a state of normalcy. SMHA reached out to funding partners to build substantial capital for powering the Rural Recovery Response—recovering, rebuilding, working on policy change and creation, and planning future communities with improved design. SMHA coordinated dozens of volunteer groups, matching skills with appropriate projects to be done.
SMHA established its cooperative relationship with the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), teams of volunteer workers from Mennonite Churches across AmericaHelen Vinton, SMHA Assistant Executive Director and Life Quality Director, was named to the board of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a 29-year old organization dedicated to helping the philanthropic community advance traditional values of social and economic justice for all Americans.
SMHA earned Louisiana Association of Non-Profits' (LANO) Seal of Excellence.
IBERIABANK committed a $10,000,000 investment in SMHA's work helping homeownership become a possibility for many low wealth rural families. This major investment was used to purchase home loans made by SMHA for the next five years.
SMHA's history and work was profiled as the cover story of The Independent, a newspaper published in South Louisiana.
2006 - Predatory Lending, a consumer's guide cartoon book, was published by SMHA. Designed to warn folks about the dangers of payday loan, rent-to-own, and other predatory lenders, it also explained in simple terms commonly used loan language for new borrowers.
President and Executive Director of SMHA Lorna Bourg, a panelist in a roundtable discussion before a U.S. Senate committee in Washington D.C., urged the adoption of her concept, the National Disaster Recovery Bond, to generate billions of dollars for long-term development and recovery from disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
2007 - SMHA held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of Teche Ridge, a 100-acre, $150,000,000 Traditional Neighborhood Development located just outside New Iberia. The residential/commercial community will offer beautiful new homes of all sizes and price ranges, including affordable housing. Teche Ridge is in keeping with SMHA's history of pioneering new approaches to tackle the challenges facing our communities, requiring strong partnerships amongst all segments of all communities.
IBERIABANK demonstrated its faith in the work of SMHA by generously committing $100,000,000 to Southern Mutual Financial Services to make affordable capital available to first-time homeowners. An additional grant of $250,000 was also given to SMHA to help prepare families for homeownership.
SMHA was introduced to the Atakapa community of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, still nearly unimproved from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 for lack of funding by governmental programs. SMHA worked to overcome policy barriers, secure funding, and provide volunteer labor for rebuilding marshland homes in accordance with nearly impossible post-hurricane construction codes, allowing Atakapa families to remain on the ancestral lands their families have occupied for 2,000 years.
2008 - SMHA was selected through a competitive process to become a chartered member of NeighborWorks®, a national network of more than 235 nonprofit organizations operating in over 4,400 communities. Only two community development corporations in Louisiana have attained this status.
Hurricanes Gustav and Ike made landfall. SMHA's Rural Recovery Response reached out to more communities and small businesses with determination and experience to recover and rebuild.
SMHA produced its three-year report, detailing its Rural Recovery Response to the hurricanes of 2005, and looking ahead to a "Louisiana better than before." The container and three foldout sections featured original artwork by local artist Paul Schexnayder.
IBERIABANK donated its inaugural annual gift of $25,000 to SMHA for its work with potential homeowners. This year's installment was dedicated by SMHA to its homeownership counseling program and home maintenance program.
SMHA's West End Revitalization was begun following community charrettes which revealed citizens' aspirations to improve their 600-acre community. SMHA contracted expert land planner and architect Steve Oubre to work with residents to create a West End Master Plan, helped organize four resident association groups, and acquired funding and volunteer labor to renovate and construct homes. SMHA established financial literacy and homeownership education programs to facilitate residents' efforts in establishing family wealth.
2009 - Southern Mutual Financial Services, the lending affiliate of SMHA, reached the $7.5 million mark in mortgage loans, consumer loans, and small business loans since its inception in 2000. SMFS and SMHA have built capital for lending through grants, partnerships with banking institutions, and federal dollars. SMFS works with its clients to get to know them and match their needs with appropriate funding sources, resulting in only one loan default in its nine years of operation.