Family's fortunes brighten Lucky Realty cuts break for them after misfortune

September 21, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

Myron and Latanya Briggs and their 10 children, driven from their rented Pimlico home by a fire, have been living for the past month in the basement of their church.

Thanks to the kindness of strangers, they soon will move to a house in the same neighborhood. And this one they will own.

Arnold Politzer, president of Lucky Realty Homes Inc., learned of the Briggs' plight this week after they were featured on a local newscast. He buys rundown houses in the city and renovates and sells them. He had a rowhouse in Pimlico that he was about to renovate and offered to give it to the Briggs free.

"It was a spur of the moment thing," Politzer said. "I guess after 28 years of making a living, and it started in Pimlico, it was time to give something back."

Yesterday, Myron Briggs showed his 13-year-old son, Anthony, what will soon become their new home on Cottage Avenue. "To make this room more spacious for my sized family, I'm going to have to remove a wall," he said as he surveyed the living room.

The house needs some work, and Anthony looked around a little skeptically.

"You don't like it? You're going to love it when it's finished," Briggs told his son.

Briggs said the fire, which broke out in the family's Reisterstown Road house in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 19, was a temporary setback in his struggle to make a life for himself and his family. He recalls that several years ago he lost his job with the city's water department and nearly lost his family because of a drinking problem.

The family become homeless about three years ago and was taken in by the members of Amazing Grace International Church. "We worked and prayed with them," said the pastor, Martin C. Nnadi. The family, he said, was receptive and embraced the message offered by the church. "Because of this, there has been a transformation in their life," Nnadi said.

The church found them a house that they shared with another family. Then in November, they moved into their own home, the rented house on Reisterstown Road.

Briggs, a deacon in the church and caretaker of its building, says his life started to turn around with the help of the church.

"I kind of almost tore my family apart, so now I have to fight hard to keep them together," said Briggs, who is working as a janitor at Cross Country Elementary School. His wife is a teacher's aide at a day care program at Walter P. Carter Elementary School.

He had faith that everything was coming together in his life and with his family when the fire tested that faith. "All our dreams and hopes, it seemed they went up in the fire," he said.

But his despair was momentary. His family went to live with a relative while he moved into the church basement. But he and his wife decided they wanted the family together, so they all moved to the church about three weeks ago. They will be there for several more weeks while the house is renovated.

And despite the hardships, the Briggs see the good that has come out of their misfortune. "It teaches the kids, you can't take anything for granted," said Latanya Briggs.

And the example of Politzer and others who have helped them has taught her children to be better citizens, she said. "So when something like this happens, they'll know how to help other people, like they've been helped," she said.

Pub Date: 9/21/96

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