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  • Writer's pictureDoctor Detroit

Happy Mother Waddle's Day

As Mother's Day approaches, I wanted to take the time to wish all mothers a peaceful and loving day. I also want to take a moment to honor a great Detroit mother, Charleszetta Waddles, also known as Mother Waddles. For those of you who may not be familiar with her, Mother Waddles was a minister and the founder of Mother Waddles Perpetual Mission. Through her mission, Mother Waddles provided food and hope to those in need.

Mother Waddles was born on October 7, 1912, in St. Louis, Missouri. She was the oldest of seven children. After the death of her father, Mother Waddles dropped out of eighth grade to help support her family. She moved to Detroit in either 1936 or 1937 with her second husband and children. Mother Waddles took whatever jobs she could find at the time. She operated a blind pig, an after-hours drinking establishment, and was a numbers writer for the illegal lottery.

In 1957, Mother Waddles recalled feeling an urge to turn her life around. Soon after this premonition, she opened a storefront mission in Detroit's Black Bottom on Columbia and Hastings, where she sold meals for 35 cents at her Helping Hand Restaurant. Those unable to pay received their meals for free. This marked only the beginning of her charitable work. Mother Waddles once explained, 'You are the spirit of Christ. You are the one who has to feed your neighbor. No God is going to come down out of the sky to run a kitchen. Somebody down here has to run the kitchen.' For over four decades, she devoted herself to helping the poor. Not only did she feed thousands, but through her mission, she also offered a free medical clinic, job counseling and placement, as well as training programs that included classes in typing, dressmaking, machine operation, upholstery, and cooking.

At the age of 88, on July 12, 2001, Mother Waddles passed away.

Finally, I would like to wish my mother, Barbara Jean Dale, a wonderful Mother's Day. Mom, you know I fought because I would have no other mom than you! Lots of love, Mom.


Shawn Windsor, "In a world of strife, she found and gave hope." Detroit Free Press, July 13, 2001.

Barbara Stanton, "Yes, Chief, There Really is a Mother Waddles - Spreading Food and Hope 365 Days a Year." Detroit Free Press, December 22, 1968.


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