Soon after President Lyndon Johnson's declaration of war on poverty and of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, civic minded citizens of Easter began to prepare applications for federal funds to operate Community Act Programs. These applications were usually made in each county and most were funded. By the end of 1966 three of the four counties in the KI BOIS Co area were operating.
Haskell County's first director was Earl Jeffery. The director in LeFlore when Community Action began was Wallace Heatley who was soon rep Kirk. Latimer County, approved in 1966, hired Mr. Bill Beck as Direct 1967.
When Mr. Jeffery entered the Armed services in 1967, Jim Hall, Jr., was named director in Haskell County. By 1968 requirements concerning area population began to force smaller counties to consider the possibility of merging with neighboring counties, thus Haskell, Latimer, and LeFlore counties merged forming KI BOIS Community Action Foundation, Inc., which was incorporated on March 11, 1968 and appointing Jim Hall, Jr., as Executive Director a position he held until October 1978 when he retired. At the time of the merger E.A. Caldwell was working on an application for Pittsburg County which could be approved if this county became a part of KI BOIS Community Action. This was accomplished July 1, 1968 and KI BOIS Community Action became a four-county agency, encompassing Haskell, Latimer, LeFlore and Pittsburg counties. Muskogee, and Sequoyah counties were added later.
The first Board Chairman was Don Huddleston. Baysul Balentine, David Ward, Gene Bass, and John Cook served as Board Chairman for many years. Cecil Williams is our current Board Chairman. Upon the resignation of Mr. Hall, Carroll Huggins was hired as Executive Director in November, 1978. He is the current Executive Director/CEO and supervises 1,000 employees and oversees a 40 million dollar plus annual budget.
Among the earliest programs initiated by KI BOIS Community Action was Head Start, beginning while there were still single county agencies. By the summer of 1966, classes were starting and this program has grown to the extent that 1000+ children are enrolled in KI BOIS Community Action Head Start and Pre-K which was directed by Carolyn Jeffrey, Reba Dunn and Donna Carolan. Other early programs were U.S. Dept. of Labor Manpower programs which Earl Jeffrey directed upon his return from the armed forces.
Some more familiar names associated with the early days of Community Action in the KI BOIS Community Action arena are Marie Holley (later Morrison), Richard Baldwin, Reba Dunn, Joy Roye, Pauline King, Becky Hickman, Louise Searles, Jerry Barlow, Sharon Hickman, Faye Shoat, Barbara Walden, Brenda Daniels, Louise Gregory, Betty Nolen, Helen Scyrkels, E.A. Caldwell, Allene Williams, Phyllis Murphy and others too numerous to mention.