One way ADRN equips the network of churches is by connecting them with disaster survivors in their area who need support. Recently, Sunset Canyon Baptist Church raised $1,000 in a special collection for families who needed help recovering from a crisis. ADRN connected them with three families who lost their homes in fires recently, and facilitated getting gift cards into these survivors’ hands.
Here are their stories.
The Cruz Family
This past June, Jonas, Areli, and their two children slept soundly in their mobile home. Areli woke from a sound sleep to discover their electricity was out. She woke her husband, asking him to check for a problem outdoors. The smell of smoke met him before he opened the front door.
Jonas and Areli quickly gathered their children, got them dressed, and hurried them out of the home. Their dwelling had caught fire due to electrical issues, and flames had already reached their next-door neighbor’s home as well. Firefighters spent the next five hours getting both fires under control.
“Watching the fire felt like it wasn’t happening to us. It was just unreal,” Areli said.
She thought about what she’d lost as she watched her home burn.
“I didn’t want to be materialistic, but it’s my home and memories. I treasured things like baby shoes and pictures. The only picture I had of my quinceanera was in the house,” she said.
“But then I realize I have my family, and none of those other things were important,” she said.
It’s been nine months since the fire, and Areli and her family are improving. Her husband Jonas is still working to rebuild their home on the same site.
“People have been so kind. We’ve gotten so many blessings since the fire. The donation from Sunset Canyon…the help we’ve gotten from ADRN. People have donated clothing to us,” Areli said.
“My husband’s company gave him time off to work on our new home,” Areli continued. “Little by little, we’re getting things back that we lost. We’re attending church. We’re more united as a family. We see more blessings in our future.”
The Hernandez Family
Beatriz Hernandez Gutierrez and her family were asleep in their mobile home last May when suddenly there was a pop so loud that it woke them. That noise turned out to be a fire that quickly engulfed their home. Beatriz and her husband Raphael rounded up their children and headed for the front door. They faced a wall of fire blocking their way.
Raphael then tried to open a back door to escape. The heavy door was almost impossible to pry loose but opened just enough for Beatriz and her daughter to get out. With the fire was closing behind him, Raphael went to his sons’ bedroom, hoping to escape from a small window. An air conditioning unit blocked their only access to the outside, but after a few attempts, the wall unit gave way, and he and his sons were free.
Eventually, the police took Beatriz and her family to the hospital. She and her daughter were soon released, but Raphael and her two sons had been severely burned in the fire and spent weeks in the hospital.
Since then, the family has faced down many setbacks to their long recovery. But Beatriz says they’re still grateful. Their home is gone, but they now stay with family and plan to rebuild. Raphael has recently returned to work after successful skin graft surgery, and her sons continue to recover.
“The money [from Sunset Canyon Baptist Church] is a blessing now because we still need some things, so we appreciate the church’s help,” Beatriz said.
The Garner and Herrera Family
Levi Garner and Dalinda Herrera were living with Dalinda’s family in November when the garage they lived in caught fire.
“I was asleep and woke up to her (Dalinda) screaming about a fire,” Levi said. The flames were literally under them, sparked by a short in an electrical cord near their bed.
“I tried to put the fire out for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, but once I realized it was over, I got out of there,” he said.
Dalinda picked up their two children and ran out of the house. Levi and the rest of Dalinda’s family quickly joined her. Once outside, they watched as the fire intensified. Fortunately, it didn’t reach the main house but destroyed most of Levi’s and Dalinda’s belongings.
“We lost pretty much everything. It melted or was covered in soot and ashes, even our clothes,” Dalinda said.
After the fire, Levi and Dalinda came to ADRN and Hope Family Thrift Store for help.
“They gave us a lot of clothes, shoes, backpacks, diapers, and toys for the kids. Lots of toys for the kids,” he said.
Levi and Dalinda are getting back on their feet now. They have an apartment with more room than they had before.
“Our son is really happy to have his own room. He has a bunk bed, which he loves,” Dalinda said.
“I didn’t know there were places like ADRN and churches like Sunset Canyon that could help us. We probably wouldn’t be where we are right now if it wasn’t for ADRN,” Levi said.