A Hawthorne woman was asleep alone in her parents' home when she heard her dog bark and awoke to the smell of smoke.
Finding the backyard on fire, Jazmin Mendoza-Ortega grabbed Stella, ran out the door and dialed 911.
Firefighters got there quickly, but fire, smoke and water damage pulverized the home where her hard-working parents, Washington Mendoza and Betty Ortega, had lived for 17 years.
Several chickens died and some pet birds were rescued -- along with Stella -- from the house at Lafayette and Llewellyn avenues on Monday.
Gone is the hub upon which a tight-knit group of relatives' lives revolved.
"My family tried to get together and salvage what we could, but so much had already been damaged," Mendoza-Ortega said. They "have seen all they have worked for since coming to this country go up in ashes."
That's why she's launched a fundraising campaign: Mendoza Family Fire (GoFundMe)
Betty Ortega emigrated from Ecuador in her late 20s and has "worked every day since," Mendoza-Ortega said.
"She has worked in many places and recently studied to become a CNA," she said. "She worked throughout the pandemic at nursing homes, trying to help those there. She works every day to help the elderly, separated from their families due to COVID, feel at home."
Her father, meanwhile, "worked as a teacher for those families who lived in the Amazonian forest and currently works in maintenance in Grace Church," Mendoza-Ortega said. "He works tirelessly to help our family.
"If any of my cousins or siblings have troubles, my father is the first one there to lend a helping hand. My father loves to tell his stories of his country to anyone willing to listen and help everyone around him."
Her parents worked hard to create a warm, safe home for the family, "where we can all join together and have fun," their daughter wrote.
"These next few months are going to be filled with obstacles and challenges," she said. "Even a thought, prayer, or text will mean the world to us and give us the courage and strength to continue this journey.
"My family loves giving back to the community in any way they can and have never asked for anything in return," Mendoza-Ortega noted. "This is why I am making this account for them."
DONATE/MORE INFO HERE: Mendoza Family Fire (GoFundMe)
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