Grandma's Leadership Leaves a Powerful Legacy

To the dozens of grandmothers caring for their children's children in Newark, N.J., Edwina Haig was a spiritual leader and an inspiration.

At age 58, she was raising 10 grandkids with grace and good humor. Her only help was one daughter who lived with her. But she even joked that she could take in a few more kids.

With the help of the Salvation Army of Newark, Haig helped form a support group to help grandmothers like her.

"There was nobody that she wouldn't help," said Martha Spencer, 66, who is raising two of her own grandchildren. "If she could, she'd do anything she could for you."

But in April 2004, Haig suffered a massive stroke -- leaving her admirers shaken and their courage tested. With her vital signs failing, and the doctor telling them that she was brain dead, her four children agreed to remove her from life support.

Days after the funeral, Haig's children gathered at their mother's house, and immediately started arguing.

The onus was now on them to keep the family together -- or state child welfare officials would move in and split up the kids.

Becoming a Dad

Ultimately, the family member who stepped up was a surprise. Haig's son William had left his mother with three of his children -- though he did help support them and saw them regularly.

William moved into his mother's house and fixed it up. He took parenting classes, and gave up his job for a much harder one: raising a house full of kids.

They called Edwina Haig "Nanny." They call William "uncle nanny."

William says he never knew his mother was so busy. "Now I see. Twenty-four hours, seven days a week, kids that I have to deal with. I love them -- that's how I get through every thing I need to with them."

He gets them going, and then is on the move all day. He went over his schedule: "2:30, kids come home from school, do homework. Dinner time, school work time, get your school clothes out, watch TV until 8:30 then get ready for bed and that's it."

William gives the kids a safe haven, and love. He has become a dad.

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