Grant Delpit surveyed the damaged floors, ruined cabinets and busted walls inside the home of Jesecia Johnson in Houston, Texas, and had a flashback.
Johnson, a mother of two children, needed help to repair the destruction caused by a rare winter storm that hit Texas in February. The freezing temperatures and snow and ice accumulations burst multiple pipes in Johnson's home while the property was already without electrical power, and the leakage created flooding across her kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom.
For Delpit, the photos of the damages — and hearing the voice of Johnson as she told him her story — invoked the same feelings of shock he remembered when he was 6 years old.
That was when Hurricane Katrina in 2005 forced his family to evacuate their home in New Orleans, Louisiana, and move to Houston. Their house was ravaged by floods from the Category 5 storm, and he couldn't help but remember those feelings of grief as he viewed the damage to Johnson's home.
"It all definitely hit home a little bit," Delpit said. "I know what it's like to have your house torn up … and to have your family uprooted from the world."
After hearing her story and seeing the photos of her house, Delpit felt the urgency to help Johnson and her family get their home back. He donated $10,000 toward repairs, which helped Johnson restore their house with new carpet, cabinetry, walls and a fully renovated kitchen.
"I am so honored, so blessed and so grateful," Johnson said. "Grant is truly an angel from afar. It was a blessing to see the brightness in his eyes that made me see the light again at the end of the day."
Following the storm, Johnson's family continued to live in the house despite the structural damages — which included a caved-in kitchen ceiling, broken pipes in two bathrooms and flooding across nearly every room in the house — and stayed afloat with meals and other resources thanks to charitable members of the community.
Her insurance, however, wasn't able to provide full assistance to restore her house. She reached out to The Goldie Legacy, a nonprofit organization committed to mobilizing individuals to serve their communities, to seek any kind of financial help.
That's when Delpit stepped in.
When he heard about Johnson's story through the foundation, he wanted to act fast to get her back on her feet. He committed to the donation and made multiple visits to Johnson's house over the course of the repairs, which are now fully complete.
Johnson had tears in her eyes and was overwhelmed with a sense of gratefulness when she heard Delpit was going to assist in covering a large chunk of the payment. Those emotions arose again when Delpit visited the house to see first-hand what impact he was making to her family.
"He's my little angel," Johnson said. "It was so unexpected to have him come in and put a seed into my life. There's no more worries. No more sleepless nights."
When the renovations began, Johnson's house was practically stripped to its foundation. Walls were torn down and furniture was removed, and Johnson's kitchen, which suffered the most damage, was set to be completely re-installed with a new sink and cooktops.
Now, after three months of being unable to cook for her kids, Kamaryn (17) and Kaden (14), Johnson can return to her normal motherly duties thanks to Delpit's financial aid.
Delpit, of course, has a free invitation to stop by for a meal.
"If he's in Houston again, he can call me up," Johnson said with a chuckle. "I don't mind doing that at all."
For Delpit, the feeling of knowing the comforts of Johnson's house have been restored provided loads of fulfillment. He didn't want Johnson to endure the same long-term level of trauma he remembers from his family when Hurricane Katrina displaced them, and as someone who called Houston his refuge after the storm, he didn't hesitate to give back to someone enduring a similar encounter in the community.
"It was cool to see it and cool to be a part of it," he said. "It definitely reminded me of our house, so it was just great to see her family's home get renovated and taken care of."