A little girl was taught by her mother that it takes a village to raise a family. Believing in that axiom, the young girl knew she had big dreams about giving back to her community. Her name was Annie Johnson.
Johnson is a successful 89-year-old businesswoman and advocate for the economically challenged. She is the founder of Project Annie Inc., a nonprofit organization that’s been around for 23 years.
Using her own salary, she saved for three decades; Johnson was able to purchase the building and have her name incorporated. The Tallahassee native picked the perfect location to really be a skip away to help those in need quickly and efficiently.
For three years Johnson paid for the groceries and clothing out of pocket.
In addition to Johnson’s grand opening, it was the week before Thanksgiving, and she knew it was a chance to help those in need for the holidays.
As a little girl her parents taught her everyone isn’t as fortunate to help others, so if you have to do it.
“I remember being a teenager and my mom used to have me come to the facility and help fix and give out plates to people in the community. Seeing those families leave with smiles on their faces, I knew my mom was doing the right thing,” Johnson said.
The facility became a huge asset and a magnet in the community. The success made her realize how much her business has a great effect on the people. The facility went from being open every third Saturday to expanding to five days a week, open Monday-Friday.
“Every last person that comes in here means a lot to me. I may not know them from a can of paint but who I am to judge? I leave that to the man upstairs,” Johnson said. “My gift is to cater to those in need. No certificate or medallion is worth more than putting a smile on someone’s face that’s the real reward I get.”
Johnson has won community service awards from the city of Tallahassee for being a helpful citizen. She has partnered with local schools by holding canned food drives. Local restaurants have donated extra foods instead of tossing them out. She has even received grants from Tallahassee to keep her business afloat and going.
Johnson said her dream is to open a daycare for children and to put mothers to work.
Johnson is in the process of renovating her building in hopes of turning her dream into a reality. She plans to have the daycare up and running by June.
“Mama Johnson is the angel of our community. Knowing her she can do anything she puts her mind to,” said Mark Mitchell, a Tallahassee resident. “I’m excited to see what she creates in the future and the people of the neighborhood is behind her 100 percent.”