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Consumer Credit Counseling Turns 25 with Record Year

Article excerpt

By Darrell Morrow

Feature Editor

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma Inc. is concluding its 25th year of operations with a record of helping 46,607 people resolve $43.73 million in debts without filing bankruptcy.

"Our key slogan is that we are the best alternative to bankruptcy," said Frank O. Kelley, vice president of education and marketing for the organization.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service is a non-profit organization supported by United Fund of Central Oklahoma and many businesses and financial institutions. Its main office is at 3230 N. Rockwell Ave.

The service set a record for a month by distributing $1 million from its clients to their creditors in July and expects 1992 credit debt resolution by its clients to reach another record, Kelley said.

"This year, we will return more dollars to creditors than in the first 18 years total of the operation _ nearly $11 million. We estimate that in 1992, we will counsel 9,000 people," Kelley said.

The 25th anniversary banquet is planned tonight at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center for about 150 business and financial leaders of central Oklahoma.

The service was organized Aug. 10, 1967, and became operational Oct. 15, 1967, with the employment of R.P. Chancellor as its first operating officer.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service has 44 employees and 14 branches and satellite offices. Seven are full-time branches and seven are part-time satellites, Kelley said.

Key officers of the corporation are Gloria E. Kelley, president and chief executive officer, Frank O. Kelley, her husband, and Theron V. Gaddis, vice president of operations. Gloria Kelley became president and chief executive officer in April 1986 after working as senior counselor and education director for nine years.

Board chairman is William Counts, president of Communication Federal Credit Union. Chairman-elect is David Kline of Kline Kline Attorneys.

"We assist people who are overextended or need some guidance in financial management. Primarily, we are noted for the overextension aspect of our service. We also do educational seminars and workshops for employee assistance groups. We go into high schools, colleges and civic organizations," Frank Kelley said.

"That is the part of our service you might consider preventative. We do that on wise money management and credit use and abuse to help people keep from getting into trouble. The trend is more and more toward providing this education and hopefully in the not too distant future it will be a required subject on the high school level."

According to a survey by the National Foundation for Consumer Credit, 64 percent of Americans are in more debt than they can conveniently handle, and three percent are in serious difficulty, possibly facing bankruptcy, he said.

"There were 14,500 bankruptcies filed in 1991 in Oklahoma," Kelley said. "Personal bankruptcies for the state were up 14.4 percent.

"We have helped a lot of people avoid bankruptcy and we would like to think the numbers would be a lot higher if we were not actively working in the communities that we are and helping the number of people we help."

The service works with clients and in many cases develops debt management programs for them. …