IN THE PEWS: A conversation with Joe Briggs

Joe Briggs and his family.

Joe Briggs always is willing to help out, so much so that he became co-chairman of the 2017 Parish Festival. From his former job at Social Services, to his family, to his parish, Joe puts other people first.

You worked in Oneida County Social Services for a number of years. What exactly did you do and what was the job like?

I was a Social Services examiner, the last 15 years in the daycare unit. We subsidized daycare expenses for low-income families.

I understand Social Service workers have a lot of cases to handle, many of them difficult? Did the job ever take an emotional toll on you?

I had the philosophy that if clients did what they were supposed to, I would do what I could to help them. It was difficult to tell someone they didn’t qualify for help when I knew they were trying to improve their lives.

Is there one thing that stands out as memorable from your job?

One particular client who moved to Utica as a single dad with three kids. In three years he had four jobs, continuously improving his situation. He eventually didn’t need our assistance.

You’re a big sports fan, especially Syracuse University and the Yankees. How did you get to like sports so much?

I grew up with four brothers and two sisters, all of whom played sports. Our dad also was a sports fan, but not the Yankees.

You play a lot of golf and work part time at Valley View Golf Course during the summer. What’s it about the sport that you like so much?

It gives me a chance to spend time outdoors with friends and family. It also feeds my competitive nature.

Can golf teach any life lessons?

Your success or failure is all on yourself. There is no one to blame for your failure nor can anyone take credit for your success.

You love baking with your granddaughter Gia and love to cook. How did you get so handy in the kitchen?

At a point in our marriage I was laid off from my job. My wife was working and we had three children. To help out, I did the household chores, including cooking dinner. I learned to enjoy it. (My wife is a better cook.)

You’re equally busy here at Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament. You served as a trustee, were a member of the parish council, a money counter for the Mass collections, and a volunteer for the Parish Festival, including being co-chairman as last year’s festival. Why do you do so much here?

Before joining Mount Carmel we were members at Blessed Sacrament. With three children in parochial school, my wife and I both became involved in the school and parish. It just carried over to Mount Carmel.

What is it about this parish that makes people want to volunteer and work hard to make it vibrant?

It is a welcoming place. We have many parishioners for whom Mount Carmel is an important part of their lives. There is a very active core of people who are ready and willing to do what needs to be done to sustain our parish. Young people are needed to help.

We’re always in need of the younger generation continuing the great tradition of Mount Carmel. What advice would you give them to encourage them?

Mount Carmel is a special place. For it to continue to be such, we need our people to become involved. Once they do that they will find that it can be a rewarding experience. It makes you feel good about yourself.

What’s the one thing about Joe Briggs that you would like people to know?

My family is the most important thing to me. They always come first.

JOE BRIGGS

Occupation: Retired from Oneida County Social Services.

Family: Married to Madeline for 45 years. Children Joe (43), Michael (41) and Maria (38). Grandchildren Giuliana (9), Chase (8), Mason (6) and Gia (4).

Things you like to do in your spare time: Golf, work outside, visit family, travel.

Favorite TV show: “Chicago PD.”

Favorite movie: “Bronx Tale.”

Favorite musical artist: Fifth Dimension.

Favorite quote: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” — Jim Valvano