Williams helps community
Published 11:02 pm Saturday, February 11, 2012
Editor’s Note: Each Sunday during Black History Month, the Suffolk News-Herald will feature an influential black person in the Suffolk community.
LeOtis Williams doesn’t like to be in the limelight. He just likes to help people.
“I can’t say exactly why I do it,” he said. “It’s just that I enjoy doing it.”
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Williams, who owns a landscaping company, rental firm and investments business, already is saving up to feed more than 2,000 families when Thanksgiving rolls around. This will be the ninth year of his turkey giveaway.
“I want to make a difference,” he said. “With the economy in the state that it’s in now, so many people are suffering and trying to make ends meet. This is my way of helping a little by providing a meal.”
Williams was raised in Suffolk, and his father still lives here. He credits his late mother with teaching him about generosity.
“My mom instilled in us that giving nature,” he said. “I kind of grew up taught that it’s right to give.”
If Williams has generosity, he has an equal dose of humility. It’s nearly impossible to get him to talk about himself or his many community projects.
“I don’t do this for any type of recognition,” he insists. “The Lord has put me in a position where I’m able to do that.”
Last year, Williams won the Black Expo 2011 Tour African-American Business of the Year Award. It’s hardly the first recognition — there are certificates and plaques galore from dozens of organizations in his East Pinner Street office.
And just like the stack of recognitions, Williams’ generosity is growing.
The first turkey giveaway featured fewer than 100 birds. Last year, about 2,500 families benefited.
“Some of them, it’s the only way they can have a meal for Thanksgiving,” he said.
But he’s not even stopping where he is. Williams has even bigger dreams — to convert a building he purchased near his office to a food bank that would have weekly food distributions.
“We want to be more of a blessing to the community at large,” he said. “There’s a lot of people excited about it. I’m excited about it.”
He’s still ramping up the plans for the food bank, but it’s moving along, he said. In the meantime, he’s going to keep doing the turkey giveaway and benefits for other local organizations.
“Everybody’s just helping other people,” he said. “It’s part of my makeup now.”