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. Jaylan made a promise to Julian before she died to take care of Julian and not sell the house she worked so hard for. 


Jaylan tried hard to honor his late mother’s wishes, but it all had been an uphill battle. Their house was flooded last year after the pipes burst during a major winter storm. The damage to their attic, walls and floors was extensive. Only their mother’s dining table was left unscathed.

Jaylan was struggling to keep his head together as he tried to keep a roof over his head, literally and metaphorically.

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 authorities, but the contractor appeared to have vanished in a whirlwind. 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 huge task and he already had many things to do. Even the smallest repairs were not possible.

If they moved to their grandmother’s house, Julian would need to transfer schools. They wanted to remain in the house their parents left them. 

Jaylan owes this debt of gratitude their mother. Jaylan also wanted his little brother, Jaylan, to grow up and make lasting memories at 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.

Jaylan knew that Julian and the house were his responsibilities so he was willing to make huge sacrifices to make it all work. 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 can 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.

It broke their hearts to learn that Jaylan was required to assume so much responsibility at such an early age. Ron Peters, their executive director, was brought in to help. 

Ron didn’t hesitate for one minute. After inspecting the extent of damage to the house he immediately took action and enlisted help from several volunteers. 

The two brothers getting a tour of their newly renovated house

Ron and his volunteers saw the holes in the walls, the ruined floors, and the furniture and knew that they had a lot of work ahead.

They removed all the damaged furniture, repaired and replaced the drywall, rewired the plumbing and painted the house. Their goal was to have their house ready for school before they started. 

After three hard months, the house was finally complete. Jaylan and Julian couldn’t believe their eyes when they entered their home. The overwhelming joy brought them to their knees. 

Jaylan says it was more than he could have ever imagined. Jaylan was blown away by the kindness of volunteers who went above-and-beyond.  

Grateful brothers helped by Katy Responds
Courtesy Katy Responds

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

He was strengthened by the realization that there are still good people, despite what he experienced with their contractor. He didn’t think that anything good would happen to them after that. 

Jaylan Gray from Katy, Texas was at the point in his life where he was ready for him to leave the house. But miracles did occur.

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

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

See the video below to learn more about this story.

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