Kimberley Arceneaux and SVdP Transportation Manager Bonnie Casey smile as Kimberley gets ready to drive the car she received through the auto donation program at St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County.

When the call came saying she would be getting a car from St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County’s (SVdP) Car Donation Program, Kimberley Arceneaux thought she was dreaming. For this single mother, the donated car she received means a whole new world of possibilities for her and her young son.

“It just doesn’t feel real,” Kimberley said. “I feel like any second now I’m just going to wake up and none of this will be real.”

On Tuesday, March 8th, Kimberley received a car through SVdP’s Car Donation Program. The Car Donation Program matches donated cars with  families that need them most, providing a much-needed lifeline to families struggling to get by. Without a car, many find it impossible to maintain a job, pick up their children from school, or even get to and from medical appointments.

“Having this car means I can actually participate in society,” Kimberley said. “My son has no idea we were even on the list for a car. He’s going to be so surprised when I pick him up from school. He’s going to be so surprised and so happy. I’m so incredibly grateful for this car, and I can’t wait to pay it forward. I just feel like I’ve been set free.”

Kimberley came to Pittsburg to be with and help care for her sister with schizophrenia and her ailing mother. A victim of domestic violence, Kimberley and her son were homeless and living in Los Angeles until they were able to make their way north to Pittsburg where her sister and mother live.

“This car will be such a boon to my family,” Kimberley said. “Not only for me and my son, but this means I can help take my sister to her appointments, and I can take my mother to the doctor. It just opens up a whole world of possibilities for our family. This is just so generous and it will help us so much, thank you.”

Kimberley suffers from severe anxiety, which has deeply impacted her ability to get by in California without a car. She said she experiences panic attacks in crowds, and finds the crowds on the bus or BART to be completely overwhelming. Kimberley said now that she has a car she hopes she can find a job despite her condition.

“My journey as a homeless woman has opened my eyes to how much suffering there is today,” Kimberley said. “I’ve just seen so many women and children suffering needlessly. I would love to find work helping or helping counsel other domestic violence victims or mothers experiencing homelessness. Getting such an amazing car as a gift, I just feel like I need to pay this good fortune forward.”

Kimberley said she is currently also working with Mercy Housing in Pittsburg to get a place where she and her son can live. She notes that although she still has struggles to work through, she’s overjoyed about the opportunities this car opens up for her young son.