Charleszetta Waddles: Feeding the Hungry
Charleszetta WaddlesAfrican-American administrator and churchwoman Charleszetta Campbell Waddles was born October 7, 1912, in St. Louis, Missouri, one of seven children of Henry and Ella Brown Campbell; only three of the seven children lived to adulthood. Her father died in 1924, and because of her mother's failing health, Campbell left school in the eighth grade to work. Becoming a single parent of several children, young Campbell went on Aid to Families with Dependent Children and read to educate herself. In 1936, she and her then-husband LeRoy Wash moved to Detroit, Michigan.

"One day I had a vision," she was quoted once. "The Lord told me to feed the hungry and clothe the naked." Her husband, Payton Waddles, a former Ford Motor Company worker who died in 1980, supported Charleszetta and the children while she rounded up neighbors and fellow churchgoers to start the Mission. With an eighth-grade education, in the late 1960s Reverend Charleszetta (Mother) Waddles founded a comprehensive social services agency—the Perpetual Mission—that still serves the low-income communities of Detroit.

Privately funded and staffed by volunteers, the Mission now helps approximately 90,000 people annually. The list of the Mission's services includes emergency aid, job training, a graphic arts program, and a culinary arts school. Those seeking help from the Mission include unwed mothers, prostitutes, abused children, the handicapped, the elderly, and the poor. The volunteer staff ranges from Mother Waddles' own children to a mostly paralyzed woman who makes telephone calls from her own house to locate wheelchairs and arrange transportation for the indigent.

Funding, according to a 1990 Mission budget report, accounted total income of $114,500 and expenses and contributions of $112,500. In addition to overseeing the Mission, Mother Waddles gave speeches and sermons comprised of a mix of what she called "downtrodden tales," optimism, and humor. Charleszetta Campbell Waddles died in 2001.

Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
Darlene Clark Hine, editor
Carlson Publishing, Inc., Brooklyn, New York, 1993