Many friends and admirers in the Daytona Beach community know Annie Talley as Grandma Talley. It is impossible to count the number of people she has touched as she has always made her home a place of refuge with a revolving door for hundreds of runaways and troubled children.
Annie Talley was born during the Great Depression. She was very poor, but her family did not realize it because everyone else was also impoverished. Her parents were very giving people and taught her that they never had so little that they could not always share with someone in need. In addition to that, they explained that people instead of possessions are important in life. Talley did not have an easy life; and as an adult, she was in the midst of cardiac arrest and given medication that had adverse affects. Her body reacted to the medication and a blood clot formed in her leg. She had to have one of her legs amputated, but she tirelessly continued her life of service.
The homeless/transient population of Ortona is approximately 70 percent. Families live in the streets or in the woods, and Talley saw that they needed help as well as an advocate. She began to spend countless hours begging for old clothes, shoes, school supplies, toys and bicycles for those in need. In addition to that, she began collecting furniture that was discarded on the side of the road.
Grandma Talley has raised six children and assisted with raising 13 grandchildren based on the life principles set forth by her parents. Since 1955, Talley has been volunteering in various capacities in the Daytona Beach area. She has been active in the P.T.A. of Ortona Elementary School and founded The Family Center at Ortona.
A trailer was vacated on the school grounds at Ortona, and Talley saw an opportunity to fulfill her dream. This trailer was the new home of the Family Center at Ortona Elementary School. Grandma Talley now had a place to keep and distribute all the donations as well as a haven for those who needed other types of assistance. Each week, the center distributes clothing to all family members in need and assists those who are in desperate need of food and lodging.
Indigent, rejected and down-and-out families in Daytona Beach find their way to Grandma’s Family Center. There, Talley makes those who may not have anything at all feel like “ a million dollars”. She has compassion and desires all those who come to the center to keep their dignity. People know that the Center is a place where they will be accepted and can get assistance to help turn their lives around. Many of the families are connected with other agencies that can assist with more permanent solutions.
Annie Talley has taught classes on home safety, CPR, childcare and she has sponsored a GED program. She is a tutor and a mentor to the Ortona students and their parents. Each summer, she takes eight to 12 children to her home in Virginia to experience a different part of life. Grandma Talley doesn’t complain because she has one leg and has to sometimes use a wheelchair. She could make excuses and be down and out herself, but she is a phenomenal woman who is an extraordinary example to everyone she meets.