Giving Hearts: Meet Randy and DeAnne Williams

Donors Randy and DeAnne Williams with their daughter, Nyla.

Randy and DeAnne Williams are partners in life and philanthropy.

Randy is the founder of Talley & Twine Watch Company, and his wife, DeAnne, serves as an account supervisor at Blue Water Communications and is the founder of The Precise Pen Writing & Editing Services. They are founding members of Visionaries for Change, which is a giving group launched at the community foundation by Black business and civic leaders in 2019. The members pool their resources into an endowment and award grants to nonprofits doing work in the Black community. Randy serves as co-chair of the giving group, which has grown to more than 80 members.

Randy and DeAnne live in Portsmouth with their daughter, Nyla. Giving back through Visionaries is just one way to support the community they call home. In fact, the company is named after an intersection – Talley Circle and Twine Avenue – in the once-blighted Ida Barbour neighborhood near downtown Portsmouth. Randy drew inspiration from the revitalization of the neighborhood when launching his company. As the company’s story states: “It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.”

Randy grew up in Camilla, Georgia, and is a graduate of Albany State University. He lived in Atlanta for several years before relocating to Hampton Roads. DeAnne is a Norfolk native and attended Norfolk State University and formerly worked as a journalist for The Virginian-Pilot.

Learn more about Randy and DeAnne:

How would you define a philanthropist? A philanthropist is someone who has dedicated themselves to a life of service.

Why did you decide to join Visionaries for Change? We wanted to have a direct impact on the success and development of the communities we identify with the most because these communities have been historically underserved.

What do you like most about being a member of Visionaries for Change? Being a member of Visionaries for Change has shown us the power we can have through working together. It’s exciting to meet other people who are as passionate about serving their communities as we are.

As a couple, how do you discuss your charitable giving? We want to impact people in underserved communities. It isn’t our goal to just help financially. We also aim to impact people in a way that equips them to help others and build generational wealth in their communities.

What do you believe is our regions most pressing issue? One of the region’s most pressing issues is inequity in education. Children, often those who are zoned for predominantly Black schools, are not afforded the same quality of education as those in other districts. Lack of exposure and resources for these children sets them behind students in other districts. As parents, we were faced with this challenge as our child reached school age. We opted for a private school for our daughter because we could afford it. However, that search came with a new set of challenges: Finding a school where our daughter would receive an education with respect to diversity. Some area private schools had very few Black employees. One school we reviewed had none. Fortunately, we were able to find a school to suit our needs, but the options were few. We are faced with the reality that those options will diminish significantly as she completes her primary education and matriculates to secondary school.

Discuss a nonprofit organization you admire and why? We truly admire the work of St. Jude Research Hospital. The very tangible way they touch families in need during one of their most difficult moments really touches our hearts. Too often, the insurmountable weight of medical bills causes stress that could lead to sickness. By covering the expenses of treatment and providing a safe space, St. Jude Research Hospital contributes to the parents’/caregivers’ healing while treating the children.

What philanthropist(s) do you admire and why? We most admire those everyday heroes from our communities who enrich the lives of others without much recognition. These are the people who keep the spirit of philanthropy alive.

Share one of your earliest memories of giving. DeAnne: One of my earlier memories is a moment of giving with the church I grew up in, New Calvary Baptist Church. Our youth group gathered food and toys for a family in need before Christmas. We visited the family at their Norfolk apartment and presented them with what we collected. The children in the family weren’t much younger than I was, and it brought me such joy to make them feel the happiness of the holidays that I had been afforded every Christmas and was looking forward to that year.

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