NewsBlack History Month


Mother Waddles' legacy of giving in Detroit lives on through her grandson

Mother Waddles.png
Posted at 4:55 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 17:50:52-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — For many Detroiters, Mother Waddles was a hero in the city and far beyond. Her grandson is now paying tribute to the inspiring woman who always lived to give back.

“She had a saying that, 'you’re never too poor to help someone else who is less fortunate than you,'” said Douglas Lewis, Mother Waddles' grandson.

Lewis beams with pride when he talks about his grandmother.

“My grandmother would fill up her house with strangers who were homeless, and then call on her 10 children," he said. "My mother being one of the main people she would call.”

Lewis added that throughout his childhood, he remembers countless strangers who came to live with him and his mother.

Born in Detroit in 1912, Rev. Charleszetta Waddles began by assisting people struggling to make their rent, and from there, her charitable efforts grew. She found ways to step up for Detroiters who spent their days experiencing homelessness and were hungry.

“She sheltered, fed and clothed the poor not only in the city of Detroit but around the country, and in other countries,” Lewis said.

All the while, Mother Waddles would also join forces with iconic names like Rosa Parks to push civil rights and helped to establish the creation of a national holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“There are very few people in Detroit who can say that she didn’t help them either directly or indirectly,” Lewis said.

Later in her career, the woman who spent time with presidents in D.C., and fed hundreds in Detroit over Christmas received many humanitarian awards, and through it all she kept her humility.

“She was huge with civil rights and anything to help the underprivileged,” her grandson said.

After her death at the age of 88, her legacy continued to live on with a thriving car donation program and so much more.

“She created it as just another avenue to accumulate money to help the poor,” Lewis said.

To make a donation to the Mother Waddles charity, click here.