Fraternity brothers at Louisiana State University (LSU) have always had fond memories of their fraternity house cook, so when they realized she was working two jobs to pay off her home mortgage, they decided to pay it forward.
Phi Gamma Delta alumni realized their former cook, Jessie Hamilton, was working two jobs to pay off her home mortgage and decided to do something to help.
The fraternity brothers surprised her with $51,765 in time for her 74th birthday in an April 3 celebration they called “Jesse Hamilton Day,” the Advocate reported.
“They were my kids. They still are,” Hamilton told the Washington Post. “They used to tell me they loved me, and now, they’ve proved it.”
During her time at the fraternity house between 1982 and 1996, Hamilton, a single mother of three, would begin her day at 4:00 a.m. to make it to campus in time to serve the boys breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
She was also there to listen whenever one of the boys wanted to talk and made herself available to take them to the grocery store or to doctor’s appointments.
“I enjoyed doing it. They loved my cooking,” Hamilton told the Post. “I was always there to talk things through with them. They’d come in the kitchen and sit on top of the counter and tell me their problems.”
Hamilton stayed in touch with several of the brothers over the years, including Andrew Fusaiotti, 52.
Fusaiotti, who owns a car dealership in Mobile, Alabama, checked in on Hamilton at the start of the pandemic and was disappointed to hear she was still working two jobs — one as a cook at a country club and one as a cleaner at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport.
Speaking with her children, he found out she had 16 years to go on a 30-year mortgage and needed to pay off the $45,000 balance.
Soon, Fusaiotti got his fraternity brothers on board and got 91 of them to donate an average of $560.
Fusaiotti and his brothers gave Hamilton a check to cover the mortgage, as well as a second check for $6,675 for personal expenses.
“This has been a blessing to me,” Hamilton told the Advocate. “I have been worrying about how I was going to pay my house off. I am grateful for what God has done and has led them to do for me.”
“If I hadn’t been sitting, I would have fell down,” Hamilton said. “I was hollering and crying.”
It was an equally emotional experience for the fraternity brothers.
“To be able to honor Jessie and give her something that would change her life, I don’t think I could ever fully describe how it made us all feel,” Joubert said.
The best part, he added, was that many of the men were able to share the moment with their children.
Hamilton’s children were all deeply moved.
“My mom has always been a person who cares about other people. She would give you the shirt off her back and the socks and shoes off her feet,” said Hamilton’s daughter, Yonetta Tircuit, 55. “Now she can actually slow down and take care of herself.”
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