Friday, December 3, 2004

Helping Hands

Dad has 10 kids at home

With his wife in treatment center, father struggles to keep family happy.

By Doug Guthrie / The Detroit News

Last Christmas, a tree stood decorated in the Williams household where 10 children live on Detroit's east side. This year, there is no tree."I don't have one yet. I'm working on it, like I'm working on a lot of things," said Ollie Williams, who left his job last year as an industrial welder after suffering complications from diabetes.

Two of his daughters, Dareka, 11, and Denay, 12, and son, Olkeem, 14, continue playing basketball in school. Darnell, 15, experiments with the rhythms of music on a friend's computer. Daughters Daqauna, 8, Daryonna, 2, and their brothers Ollie, 8, Tyrone, 7, Dontrell, 6, and Darius, 5, play in the back yard.

But this Christmas will be spent without their mother. Darise Williams, 34, had fallen into using crack cocaine, her husband said. She got caught passing bad checks and was sentenced to probation. She also committed to 12 months of residential drug treatment. She is currently at the Salvation Army's Harbor Light center in Detroit.

Times are hard without his paycheck and without money Darise Williams earned. "Last year, we did all right for Christmas, without any complaints," said Ollie Williams.