LIFTT is a not-for-profit agency governed by a consumer-controlled Board of Directors whose lives have been personally impacted by a disability. It is funded in part by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended in 2014 (Title VII – Independent Living Services), and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (Disability Employment & Transitions Division). 

From offices in Billings and Glendive, LIFTT provides consumer and advocacy services to residents of Big Horn, Carbon, Carter, Custer, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, Golden Valley, McCone, Musselshell, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Rosebud, Stillwater, Treasure, Wibaux, and Yellowstone counties. LIFTT also works on a systemic level on local, state and national issues to improve the lives of individuals living with disabilities.

LIFTT’s Mission

Living Independently for Today & Tomorrow, Inc. is a Montana non-profit organization committed to empowering persons with disabilities to live freely and equally in Southeastern Montana through the provision of independent living services which reduce societal barriers.

Learn more about LIFTT:

LIFTT Staff at a Garage Sale.

History of LIFTT

In 1981, when the independent living movement reached the Big Sky country, two advocacy groups became the first two Centers for Independent Living: Montana Independent Living Program (mILp) and Summit Independent Living (Summit).

The organization received grants to further the independence of Montanans living with disabilities. mILp opened offices in Helena, Bozeman, and Butte. mILp provides services in 14 counties, (Beaverhead, Broadwater, Deer Lodge, Gallatin, Granite, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Madison, Meagher, Park, Powell, Silver Bow, Sweet Grass, and Wheatland); Summit opened offices in Missoula, Hamilton, Kalispell, and Ronan. It serves the Flathead Reservation, Lincoln, Flathead, Lake, Sanders, Mineral, Missoula, and Ravalli counties.

Following these initial organizations came the North Central Independent Living Services (NCILS) in Great Falls, and Living Independently For Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) in Billings.

At first, LIFTT was called Yellowstone Valley Center for Independent Living (YVCIL). It was created around 1982, and in October 1988 changed its name to Living Independently For Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT). LIFTT’s first Executive Director and first Chair of the Board of Directors was Ardys Olin.

LIFTT has successfully provided independent living services in Southeastern Montana for over 30 years. Numerous people of all ages with disabilities now advocate for themselves, attend schools, work, are productive members of society, date, get married, have children, retire outside institutions, and thrive as independent human beings. These achievements were made possible with the help of quality leadership of LIFTT’s board of directors and executive directors.

LIFFT Building outdoor view.

The chairs of the board directors are listed chronologically:

  1. Ardys Olin, 1988-1990
  2. Michael Gram, 1991
  3. Marge Jones, 1992
  4. Ralph Sappinton, 1994
  5. Jan Scott, 1995-1998
  6. Dave Swanson, 1999-2000
  7. Dan Yazak, 2001-2008
  8. Maria Beltran, 2009-2010
  9. Daniel MacDonald, 2011-2013
  10. Mary Westwood, 2013-2016
  11. Jim Brown, 2017-2019
  12. Chad Hooker, 2019-2020
  13. Andy Fox, 2020-Current

Numerous individuals have also served as executive directors:

  1. Ardys Olin, 1988-1991
  2. Michael Gram, -1992
  3. Marge Jones, 1992-1993
  4. Ralph Sappington, 1993-1995
  5. Jan Scott, 1996-1999
  6. Pat Lockwood, 1999-2002
  7. David Swanson 2002-2008
  8. Bobbie Becker, 2008-2011
  9. Joe Burst, 2012-2015
  10. Tami Hoar, 2015-2017
  11. Jen Cleland, from 2017-2019
  12. Carlos Ramalho, from October 2019- current

LIFTT’s future is brighter than ever. Ours is a transition period in which the independent living movement became a permanent culture and American lifestyle.

LIFTT is investing in the future of Independent Living by building a new ADA accessible website and App; by providing consumers with online services and tools like the Spirit Club, Living Well in Community, online social groups, and community activities. 

LIFTT invites you to become a part of this adventure.  

LIFFT Building outdoor view.