Case Study: Southern Mutual Help Association, Inc.

Preserving a legacy of building strong, healthy and prosperous communities

About Southern Mutual Help Association, Inc.

An award-winning non-profit, SMHA has taken on social and economic issues like poverty, racism and sexism for the past 50 years. Their mission is to build strong, healthy and prosperous communities in rural Louisiana through advocacy and activism. SMHA goes to court, influences public policy, collaborates with banks, partners with developers and pursues other avenues to create prosperity.

“We have a history that’s worth preserving, and Ricoh is an essential part of that now.”

Lorna Bourg

Co-Founder, President and CEO

Southern Mutual Help Association, Inc.



With us, the SMHA staff felt confident that their documents would be handled with meticulous care. And we customized our services to address all of their concerns.

SMHA was concerned about possible hurricanes, so we digitized their records in our Houston facility instead of in New Orleans. We scanned documents in batches, 40 boxes at a time, and delivered a DVD of scanned images with each batch. Our services also included:

  • Optical character recognition (OCR) to create searchable text.

  • Hyperlinks in SMHA’s spreadsheets to help staff reach documents quickly.

  • Chain of custody forms to address security concerns.

  • External hard drive storage with backups on our servers.


Our digitization efforts have helped preserve SMHA’s legacy. Even odd-sized documents and notes on napkins are scanned and indexed. Now SMHA can pursue their dream to give the documents to an institute dedicated to educating undergraduate women for leadership in the 21st century. And they can carry on their day-to-day work with confidence thanks to:

  • Electronic indexing, which makes it easy to locate and access documents.

  • Accurate final records, because errors were caught and corrected during scanning.

  • Multiple backups, which help safeguard the information no matter how many storms occur.

With nearly all the historical and office records digitized, we and SMHA are turning to phase two — scanning the newspaper clippings that tell SMHA's story in the media.

Download PDF