Jabril Faraj
Milwaukee Stories

“I’ve always liked helping people.”

Mia Williams was one one of nine children of a single mother. So many children, she says, need a helping hand.

By , Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service - Aug 20th, 2014 10:50 am
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Mia Williams stands near the corner of 26th & Wisconsin in Milwaukee’s Avenues West neighborhood.

Mia Williams stands near the corner of 26th & Wisconsin in Milwaukee’s Avenues West neighborhood.

Mia Williams walks down Wisconsin Avenue alone on a Thursday afternoon in Avenues West.

Williams grew up in a large family – she’s one of nine kids – and was raised by a single mother. “It was wonderful. I mean, we’re very close, we show a lot of love,” she says. “Whenever there was dinner, everybody sat at the dinner table and ate; there wasn’t any separation, you know. And we’re still very close-knit today.”

Williams’ mother was a widow who raised their family by herself and, though they moved around a lot, Williams says they never wanted for anything. “My mom did an awesome job. And she raised her first grandchild,” Williams says.

“She’s great, she’s still great. Like, now, the smallest things. You know, when you’re going through something it seems so hard but then I think about what my mom went through – nine of us in the house – and everything was taken care of.”

Williams knows a little bit about overcoming challenges, as well. She is also a single mother. “I had my first one, I was senior in high school, I was actually 17 when he was born. I turned 18 right after it, I graduated and then, three years later, I had my daughter.”

The now-40-something Williams – who, at one point, claimed welfare and, though she took some classes, wasn’t able to finish college – works in the criminal division of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office, where she’s been employed for 20 years.

“I did what I needed to do. It’s all about sacrifice because your babies didn’t ask to be here and that was my priority then. I didn’t ask anyone to babysit unless it was business-related. As far as, like, extracurricular activities, that was on the back burner.”

Williams, who wanted to be a nurse when she was younger, says she enjoys her job because she’s able to help people and it keeps her on her toes. “It’s stressful but it’s very educational. I learned a lot about the criminal system and how it works.”

And she’s looking forward to learning even more than she has. Williams says she’ll be at her job for at least 15 more years (until she is able to draw on her pension), but when the time comes to retire, she wants to find something else to do, something she’s passionate about, something that will continue to challenge her.

“Once I am eligible, I’m still gonna be pretty young, I would like to try something else. My dream is I would love to have a building as big as this (four-story apartment building), maybe bigger, where I can take in runaway children, you know, and help them to go back to school and get their life together. And I know that would take me going back to school and getting my degree but that’s okay, I’m still young and I’m able. That’s what I would like to do cause you just don’t know what children are going through.”

Williams says she’s been thinking about this for a couple years now. Why children? “Because they’re our future, you know, and if we don’t help them who will? You know, it’s all about, ‘me, me, me,’ ‘I, I, I,’ in this world and no one’s really thinking about all these kids.”

“[Children] deserve a place to stay, a roof over their head, clean clothes, [to be] fed, all of that. These are our kids, they’re the ones that are gonna be here when we can’t do it anymore.”

For more profiles of real Milwaukeeans by Jabril Faraj check out milwaukeestories.org. If you’d like to help support these stories, please consider becoming a member of Milwaukee Stories.

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