Audrey Williams: The Mothers’ Helper

Audrey Williams

Audrey Williams Colin Michael Simmons

City Pages' People Issue celebrates people making Minnesota a better place.

If you’re a single mother in the Twin Cities looking for help, sooner or later you’ll find Audrey Williams.

Usually sooner.

“I received a call from a woman who was taking a bus up from Texas,” Williams says. “She overheard two young ladies talking about the services I provided. She said, ‘I didn’t want to interrupt them, but I needed to have your number.’ When I called her back, she started crying. ‘I never thought that you’d return my call.’”

Through her organization, Titus Mothers Ministries, Williams provides almost everything single mothers need to get back on their feet. Diapers and wipes. A paid hotel stay when they’re homeless, furniture and a household basket “to bless them with” when they find a home. Even budgeting classes.

Williams doesn’t so much run an organization as make connections. She publicizes donation opportunities though Facebook groups for various Northeast neighborhoods and her own personal page, and she’s never disappointed at the response. “There are a lot of people who want to give, they just don’t know how to give,” she says. “I’m the mediator between these families.”

In 2014, Williams, who became a single mother herself at 16, was leading a group for single moms at her church. “A mom came from Florida, where she had been in a domestic abuse situation,” she says. “Her son had literally seen his father beat her, so he had PTSD and so did she. She was pregnant and they had nothing but the clothes on their back.”

The woman’s crisis haunted Williams. “I couldn’t sleep. I felt like I had to do something. So I appealed to the community. And before the weekend was out, they piled her apartment with bread and furniture. UPS trucks were pulling in front of my house, providing her and the kids with everything they could possibly need. And that’s how it started. People kept messaging me: ‘Do you have another family we can help?’”

Williams also sponsors events. A single mothers’ Valentine’s Day (with no kids allowed) is in its fifth year. She’s held a community baby shower for 26 pregnant moms. A back-to-school event rounds up school supplies, and at Christmas she facilitates opportunities to “adopt” families and provide them with meals and toys.

“I do what I do because of my childhood,” Williams says. The daughter of two alcoholic parents, she was born in the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago and raised, as she says, “in neglect.” Which is why an event that occurred when she was seven was so significant.

“One Christmas, somebody put a box on our doorstep—no name, no address, no anything,” she says. “And that box was filled with toys—checkers and blocks—and it shaped my life. Because when we take time to give, the only thing to do is give back.” 

Click here to read other profiles from this year's City Pages People Issue.