AZUSA, CA – When 18-year-old Emanuel Mallon graduated from Gladstone High School last June, he had planned to continue living at home while pursuing a certificate in fire technology at Mt. San Antonio College. His goal was to ultimately become a firefighter.
However, on the evening of the Fourth of July, his plan took a detour after a stranger’s illegal firework landed on the garage of his family’s house. Awoken from their sleep, the family of five evacuated the house just in time and watched as firefighters worked to put out the blaze that had engulfed the inside of their home. They lost everything.
The next morning Mallon and his parents, Moira and Raul Montoya, along with their two younger boys, Mathew, 15, and Timothy, 11, found themselves thankful for their lives but also homeless. Among everything lost in the blaze was Mallon’s high school diploma and Timothy’s signed award from President Obama.
“I felt like I wanted to do something to help that night,” Mallon said. “I know being a firefighter is kind of a dangerous, risky job but I want to be able to help people in this situation.”
That night solidified Mallon’s plans to pursue a career as a firefighter and to help his community. As he prepares to start classes at Mt. SAC this fall semester, his brother Mathew will begin his sophomore year at Gladstone High School and Timothy at Slauson Middle School on Aug. 18. The family is currently living in an apartment with relatives in Azusa.
Azusa Unified School District has since partnered with Foothill Community Church to collect donations of clothing, food, gift cards and money for the Montoya family.
“As soon as I learned of this tragedy I knew the District had to rally around this family and do what we could to assuage their grief of losing their home,” AUSD Superintendent Dr. Linda Kaminski said.
Donations can be dropped off at the front desk of the District’s main office, 546 S. Citrus Ave. or at Foothill Community Church, 777 E. Alosta Ave.
On Sunday, Aug. 14 AUSD Board President Yolanda Rodriguez-Pena will escort the Montoya family to Memorial Park in Azusa for the city’s annual Cool Kutz for Kids event so they can get a head start on back-to-school preparation. Not only will volunteers from local barber shops provide free haircuts for the children, they will have access to much-needed school supplies.
Between the support of his church and AUSD, Mallon said he feels overwhelmed by the support his family has received.
“It’s been a blessing to see the community come together and offer help,” he said.
AUSD plans to reissue Mallon’s high school diploma in the coming weeks.