Anonymous benefactor provides home for family of 10

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 23, 2001

Denise MArtin-Fisher, second from right, stands with her nine children and a neighbor at their home on Oak Street. The home was bought for the family by an anonymous benefactor. From left are Demeatrica Martin, 15, neighbor Kita Green, 9, O’Kisa Martin, 10, Denzel Hawkins, 7, John Shelby, 10, Ta’Tricia Martin, 12, La’Quwuna Martin, 9, Jo’Londa Martin, 14, Chavez O’Neil, 3, and Ashley Martin, 16. Kita slipped into the family portrait unnoticed. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[07/23/01] Denzel Hawkins, 7, leans against a large tree and counts to 20 while his brothers and sisters rush to find a place to hide behind the quaint white house with a large covered porch.

The house is a new home for the children and a better place to play hide-and-seek, but it’s a special place for one woman who says it came from someone she knows only as her “angel.”

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Denise Martin-Fisher, 31, had been living in a one-bedroom utility trailer with nine children, ages 3 to 16. Five of the children are Fisher’s and four are her sister’s. Fisher said there was a time when things weren’t so tough and when she and her children lived in a comfortable environment.

However, in 1999, her sister died, and not long after, their mother died, too. Fisher’s mother had always taken care of her sister’s children, and Fisher said she promised she would carry on the responsibility. With nine children, Fisher wasn’t allowed to stay in the home she rented. She couldn’t get help from the Vicksburg Housing Authority because there weren’t any houses available large enough for her family that would meet Housing and Urban Development guidelines. Splitting the children up was never an option for her, so she decided to tell her story in the hopes she’d get help.

Now the family lives in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home on Oak Street, where Fisher is not hindered by HUD guidelines and rent-controlled difficulties. Fisher and her family have a home to call their own, thanks to one person’s compassion for their situation.

“I call her my angel’ because that’s what she is,” Fisher said. She also doesn’t know what else to call the benefactor because the person has chosen to remain anonymous.

The benefactor said Fisher’s story was hard to ignore.

“My heart just went out to her,” the benefactor said. “She was taking care of her sister’s children and her children because of a promise she made.”

Fisher will also be able to furnish the house thanks to members of the community who got involved in her situation. The Sunshine Lodge No. 99 held a benefit for her in June and raised $1,800. Churches in Jackson and Warren County have donated additional money.

“Thank God for all the angels he sent to me,” Fisher said. “For the house, for the money, the clothes everything they’ve done for me.”

The anonymous donor also had a second bathroom added to the house, as well as new cabinets in the kitchen.

“I’ve been blessed,” the benefactor said. “I just wanted to help others where I see a need. I saw that she was in need and wanted to help.”

Jim Hobson, the Realtor who closed the deal on the house, said this is the first time he has been involved in a situation where a house was bought for someone else and the two parties were unknown to each other. Hobson has been in the real estate business in Vicksburg since 1977.

He said the closest thing to it he has seen was last year when a family gave a home to a woman who had worked for them for many years.

“I think this person was mighty generous to take this on and buy a house for someone she don’t know,” Hobson said. “(The benefactor) got involved early on and followed through with it to the end.”