NEWPORT—For those who feel “stuck” and think there is no other course of action but to wade into a sea of debt, they can now find help and relief with a free program being offered locally through First Horizon Bank (formerly First Tennessee) known as Operation Hope.

Operation Hope is a national program started by John Hope Bryant in 1992 as a mission to equip and educate consumers and families in order to help them receive financial freedom by building credit, slashing debt and working toward homeownership.

The broad spectrum of assistance ranges from managing overwhelming debt to saving money and learning how to properly operate a bank account. Small business owners and young adults are also encouraged to take advantage of the free financial counseling.

“We review the credit report of our client and come up with an individual plan to see their credit scores raised, money saved or even just budgeting wisely,” said Financial Well Being and Money Management Coach Lee Atkins.

The free service is offered for up to two years as often times it can take that long to raise credit scores and wipe away debt, according to Atkins.

Atkins estimates that at least eight out of 10 Americans have errors on their credit report and don’t even know it.

Offered to Cocke County

Since its inception in 1992, Operation Hope has built credit portfolios for over 2 million struggling individuals and businesses nationwide.

Although Atkins’ office is in Morristown, he manages several counties in the region including Cocke County. Anyone interested in seeking the free financial counseling can call Lee Atkins at 423-254-6207 or call the Newport First Horizon at 423-625-0436 to schedule an appointment.

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