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Brothers who lost both parents and nearly their home when a contractor stole their money get home remodeled by volunteers

When an entire community rallies behind you, it’s more than enough motivation to keep going.

It’s what Julian Nicholson and Jaylan Gray from Katy, Texas, experienced when their community stepped in and gave their home back to them. 

Life hasn’t been easy for the two brothers since they lost their mother, Roslyn Nicholson, two years ago. But before she passed, she made Jaylan promise to look after Julian and never sell the house she worked so hard to pay for. 

The two brother's deceased mom in her wedding gown


Jaylan tried hard to honor his late mother’s wishes, but it all had been an uphill battle. Last year, their house flooded when the pipes burst in the middle of a major winter storm, damaging their attic down to the ceilings, walls, and floors. Only their mother’s dining table was left unscathed.

Jaylan was barely keeping it together, trying to keep a roof over their heads, literally and figuratively.

And just when Jaylan thought things couldn’t get any worse, the contractor he hired to do the repairs on the house took off with about $20,000 of their money, and even their air-conditioner! 

The brothers overwhelmed with emotions while recalling mom's memories


He reported the contractor to the authorities, but the contractor seemed to have vanished in the wind. Sadly, their home insurance that would’ve covered the damage and repairs had already lapsed. He didn’t have a choice but to try and make their house as livable as possible.  

It was a Herculean task, and he already had a lot of things to deal with. There was no money to spend on even the most minor repairs.

If they moved to their grandmother’s house, Julian would need to transfer schools. But they really wanted to stay at the house that their parents left for them. 

Jaylan owed this debt of gratitude to their mother. He also wanted his little brother to grow up and make memories there and play football for the same school Jaylan attended.

Katy Responds, a non-profit organization comes to their rescue


“I want to make sure he doesn’t get in any trouble and that things can be smooth as possible for him in school,” Jaylan added.

With Julian and the house as his responsibilities, Jaylan knew that he had to make big sacrifices to make it work. So he dropped out of college.

As Julian’s big brother, he wanted him to feel loved and cared for, even if their lives from then on would never be the same again. 

As much as he wanted to repair their damaged family home, Jaylan didn’t know where to start and how he would pay for it. All he knew was that he couldn’t give up on it. 

Young Julian crying


But angels truly walk on earth. In this case, they’re from Katy Responds, a non-profit organization that helps rebuild homes damaged by natural disasters through volunteer work and donations. 

Volunteers Michelle and Kevin Duty couldn’t believe what Jaylan Gray from Katy, Texas, had experienced with his contractor.

Their hearts broke upon knowing that Jaylan had to take on a lot of responsibility at such a young age. They had to bring their executive director, Ron Peters, to the fore. 

Ron didn’t hesitate for one minute. After checking the full extent of damages in the house, he immediately went to action and enlisted the help of several volunteers. 

The two brothers getting a tour of their newly renovated house


Seeing the holes in the walls and the ruined floors and furniture, Ron and his team of volunteers knew they got their work cut out for them.

In the next three months, they took out all the damaged furniture, repaired the roof, replaced the drywall, and redid the wiring, plumbing, and paint of the entire house. Their goal was to have the house ready before the start of school. 

After three grueling months, the house was finally finished. Upon entering their home, Jaylan and Julian could hardly believe their eyes, and the overwhelming joy brought them to tears. 

According to Jaylan, it was more than he ever imagined. The kindness of the volunteers who went above and beyond simply blew him away.  

Grateful brothers helped by Katy Responds

Courtesy of Katy Responds

As for Julian, the young boy couldn’t hold back his tears as he witnessed firsthand the kindness of his community.

It strengthened his belief that there are still good people despite what they experienced with their contractor. He didn’t think that anything good would happen to them after that. 

Jaylan Gray of Katy, Texas, was at that point in his life when he was ready to give up the house altogether. But a miracle happened.

And now, he has more hope for the future. He still dreams of going back to college and becoming a park ranger in Texas. But until then, he’s happy to take care of Julian and make sure that he’ll have a better future. 

A courageous and selfless brother will do anything for their little siblings. Jaylan and Julian are definitely brothers who will have each other’s backs for life.

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