Pictured from left: Chris Little, Mitzy Little, Ashley Hancock and Charlie Little.
By Tammy Moore Teague
Born in Huntington, AR, Mitzy Little’s roots run deep. Her outreach, however, has extended far beyond our community. Her life’s work has become centered around helping those who need a hand up.
Little is the youngest of 10 children born to Ruben and Geneva Elmore. She grew up in Huntington and graduated from Mansfield High School in 1983. She has been married to husband, Charlie, for 37 years. The couple have two children, Ashley Hancock and Chris Little. Additionally, she has three grandchildren, Jacob, Kristen and Leena.
The Littles are members of Coop Prairie Church in Mansfield. It’s here where she practices one of her favorite pastimes, singing. “I have been singing for many years. When I was a little girl my daddy would take me to “singings” and set me up on the stage and I would sing.” Little also enjoys photography. “My children, grandchildren and extended family give me plenty of opportunities to take photos.”
Her career in public service began in 1996. She came to the United Way in 2011 after her retirement from the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department. During her time there she worked in communications, coordinating the 911 Emergency Services Dispatch Center. At the time of her retirement she served as an administrative assistant to the sheriff.
In 2006, Little was awarded a Certificate of Congressional Recognition for her work in emergency service communications during Hurricane Katrina. As she neared retirement, she realized she wanted to continue working in the field of public service. Her heart, her passion is serving others, and she saw United Way as the organization where she could continue making a direct impact by helping people in need. Since that time she’s been named an Ambassador for the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce. And, most recently, named Ambassador of the Year for 2017.
Arvest Bank makes a donation to the United Way of Fort Smith for their 1 Million Meals food drive. In the picture from left, United Way of Fort Smith Area board member and 5News anchor, Daren Bobb, United Way of Fort Smith Area President Eddie Lee Herndon, Mitzy Little, former Arkansas Razorback and current Baltimore Raven , Alex Collins, United Way of Fort Smith Area Vice President of Resource Development, Penni Burns and United Way board member, Les Smith from Arvest.
Currently, Little is the Marketing Director for United Way of Fort Smith Area. She is responsible for marketing United Way to the community through various mediums and promoting year round awareness of United Way and its Community Partner Agencies. “I began work for the United Way of Fort Smith Area in 2011 after my retirement from the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office. I loved some aspects of my job at the Sheriff’s Office, mainly helping others, which I feel is my calling. I felt at home in the 911 dispatch center and have so many memories of things that happened over the years both good and bad. But after 14 years I was ready to move on to a job that was not 24/7 365. God opened a door for me to come to United Way and I walked through that door and have loved my time here. There are so many ways that United Way of Fort Smith Area and our community partner agencies make a difference to people in our community, I love being part of that difference.”
She says the most difficult thing about her job is asking for donations to fund the programs United Way provides. “Sometimes to get our message across is hard because so many people think they know what United Way does. So every day my job is to try and get the message of what we do out there so that people will understand, because our local senior citizens through the Meals on Wheels program, and our local children through the Meals for Kids program and our local families who may be dealing with abuse or violent relationships, and so many more programs, depend on us to raise the funds that are provided to these local agencies to perform the services local individuals need.”
Every United Way has its own Board of Directors and that board makes the decisions on the agencies and programs funded through donations made to the local United Way. “United Way of Fort Smith Area is blessed in that every penny of every dollar that is donated to us is given back out to the programs and agencies we provide funding for.” Little went on to add that all utilities, salaries and all overhead is paid for through an endowment/ trust fund established for that purpose. These expenses are not taken from donations. The United Way of Fort Smith has been able to do that for the past eight years.
“I hope to stay with the United Way for many years and continue to do all I can to provide a hand up to those that may need it. My thought is it could be any one of us at any time that may be in need of some assistance.”