LSU Fraternity Brothers Pay Off Mortgage of Beloved House Cook 30 Years Later
A group of Louisiana State University fraternity brothers have always said their fraternity house cook was like a mother to them — so when they found out she was working two jobs to pay off her mortgage, they stepped in to get the job done.
Alumnae of Phi Gamma Delta surprised their former cook Jessie Hamilton with $51,765 ahead of her 74th birthday in a celebration on April 3 that they dubbed "Jessie 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 FIJI house from 1982 to 1996, Hamilton, a single mother of three, would start her days at 4 a.m. to get to campus in time to serve the boys breakfast, lunch and dinner while also being a listening ear who'd drive them to the grocery store or to doctors appointments, the outlets reported.
"I enjoyed doing it. They loved my cooking," she 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."
Over the years, Hamilton stayed in touch with several brothers, including Andrew Fusaiotti, now 52 and the owner of a car dealership in Mobile, Alabama, the Post reported.
At the start of the pandemic, Fusaiotti, who attended LSU in the late '80s, called Hamilton and was reportedly disheartened to hear she was still working two jobs, as cleaner at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and as a cook at a country club.
After speaking with her children, he learned that she had 16 years left on a 30-year mortgage, and needed $45,000 to pay it off, the Advocate reported.
Soon, he had his fraternity brothers on board, and in the end, 91 brothers donated an average of $560 each to make it happen, according to the Post.
"That shows how they all felt about her," Fusaiotti told the Advocate. "Jessie is one of these people that shows up to work and always has a smile on her face, eager to please and never complains."
"She is the type of person that inspires me, people that don't have a lot, but give a lot. She's the most giving person you've ever met," he added.
Together, Fusaiotti and his brothers — all of whom are vaccinated, the Post reported — presented Hamilton with a check to cover her mortgage, and a second check for $6,675 to spend on herself. They celebrated her birthday with a celebration in the driveway of her Baton Rouge home.
"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."
Hamilton said she plans to retire, and enjoy retirement from the comfort of her paid-off home. When it's safe to travel again, she also hopes to visit Hawaii.
"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," Hamilton's daughter, Yonetta Tircuit, 55, told the Post. "Now she can actually slow down and take care of herself."
This story originally appeared on people.com