About LIFT CAA
LIFT Community Action Agency, Inc.
(F.K.A. (formerly known as) Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Inc.)
In 1964, three separate Community Action Agencies existed in Choctaw, Pushmataha, and McCurtain Counties of Southeast Oklahoma. Research dating back to the reference period reveals that the following Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) programs were operated by those CAA’s: Administration, Emergency Food and Medical, Neighborhood Centers, and Summer & Full Year Head Start programs.
In 1968, these agencies merged in order to better meet the needs of the residents of Southeast Oklahoma. The Board of Directors drafted Articles of Incorporation and By-laws for the newly founded entity which was named “Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Inc.” and included the entirety of all three counties, an area covering more than 4,000 square miles.
Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Inc. was incorporated as a Nonprofit Organization on April 4th, 1968. The agency’s purpose as stated in its original Articles of Incorporation was “To assist in developing, executing, and coordinating plans and the programs authorized under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and subsequent amendments which may be made to that act, and other Federal, State, and Local laws and programs which will tend to alleviate and eradicate poverty within the area of operation of this agency, exclusively for charitable purposes.”
Fred Tucker was the first Executive Director for Little Dixie and Gail Landreth was the first bookkeeper. These two individuals represented the agency’s entire administrative staff in 1968.
Tucker served as executive director for 25 years until his death in 1993. His service to Community Action is honored each year when the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies bestows the Fred Tucker Award for Excellence and Longevity among the State’s Community Action Employees. The agency has had only four additional Executive Directors since Mr. Tucker which include:
• Bob Yandell (1993-2005)
• Randall Erwin (2005-2008)
• Brenda Needham (2008 to 2014)
• Rebecca Reynolds (2014 to present)
According to the 1970 census, 63.6% of the residents in the tri-county area had incomes below the federal poverty level. Now, according to U.S. Census data (Quick Facts, July 1, 2019) combined poverty levels for the tri-county area have decreased to 22.8%. This significant decrease is greatly attributed to the anti-poverty programs implemented through the years by Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Inc.
When the three separate CAA’s merged in 1968, Little Dixie was the name selected as it best described the landscape, culture and geographical boundaries of the service area. Southeast Oklahoma, with its mountainous landscape and high precipitation is significantly different from other areas of Oklahoma and other Great Plains States. Climate conditions are more aligned with those in the Deep South. These characteristics served as the rationale behind the selection of the name “Little Dixie” for the new Community Action Agency.
Over the 53 year history, Little Dixie has continued to grow and expand, continuously adding new programs and services to meet the needs of the area, especially our most vulnerable populations. That growth is reflected in our funding: In 1971, Little Dixie had an annual budget of $607,583 and today the agency’s current budget is close to $22 million. That growth is reflected in our services: In 1968, we operated 4 Social Service programs and in 2021, we operate more than 25 programs ranging from social service to housing, economic development, and more. And last but not least, that growth is reflected in the expansion of our service area. Several of our programs stretch across many counties in the State; one program (Intermediary) reaches 8 States in the Nation and a separate program (T&MA) serves an 11-State region across the Nation.
As a result of this growth, the name “Little Dixie” was no longer an accurate description of the “service area.” The Board of Directors and agency leadership sought input from customers, staff, residents, funders, peers and others. Ultimately, this dialogue led to a decision to change the name of the agency. It was important to all stakeholders that the name change preserve the core identity as a Community Action Agency, which represents CSBG-funded organizations established by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and President Lyndon B. Johnsons “War on Poverty.” Therefore, only “Little Dixie” was changed within the name. On August 10, 2021, the Board of Directors approved the name change and Little Dixie became LIFT Community Action Agency, Inc.
At LIFT Community Action Agency, Inc., concern and empathy for others is at the very heart of what we do and why we exist. We act in the best interest of others to deliver superior services and enrich each life we touch—whether through the provision of education, transportation, housing, advocacy, or other community and social supports. We have a passion for making the communities we serve a better place, both within and outside of Oklahoma. LIFT Community Action Agency, Inc. carries with it the history that occurred over the last 53 years and we will continue to focus on LIFTing others through service and collaboration aimed at improving lives and achieving self-sufficiency. We look forward to the next 50 years.
Our Mission: To improve the lives of low-income individuals and families through service and collaboration leading to self-sufficiency.
Our Vision: To Free Generations of People from Poverty
Our Core Values: Compassion; Honesty; Optimism; Integrity; Community; Empowerment; and Stewardship: