Good Samaritans team to give arson victim car

November 19, 2009 1:23:47 PM PST
An arson fire in the East Bay last week not only burned a vehicle, it also destroyed an important part of a single mother's dream for herself and her three daughters. But an ABC7 viewer saw this woman's story, realized that she remembered having to deal with something very similar and decided to help keep the woman's dream alive.

"Oh my God, I don't want to cry in front of the cameras," said arson victim Julia Castellon.

It's a happy ending to a tragedy that began last week. Castellon's Toyota Corolla burned right in front of her El Sobrante apartment, a remnant of the East Bay vehicle arsonist. She had no insurance, not when the choice was protecting your investment or feeding your children. As investigators looked for clues, she looked for answers.

"How am I going to get them to school? How am I going get to school? What am I going to do?" she said.

Venita Satterfield of Oakland watched the story on ABC7 that day and couldn't believe her eyes. Castellon's heartbreaking story was a mirror image of her own.

"At one point I was single with three children and I was unable to pay for my insurance. And I too had a car that the motor burned up in it and I thought, 'Oh gosh, what am I going to do?" said Satterfield.

Satterfield contacted ABC7 with an amazing offer to help Castellon and her girls find another car; she would put up $4,000, a huge chunk of her savings.

"By the grace of God, it's not me this time, it's her, and I wanted to help," said Satterfield.

It all seemed to be falling into place until a local dealership changed its mind about helping Castellon and her guardian angel with a special deal on a used car. That's when community activist Rigo Mendoza stepped in, he also happens to own a used car lot. Mendoza discounted six cars for Castellon to choose from.

"Sometimes you don't need to make money, when you want to help somebody, money doesn't mean anything," said Mendoza.

Castellon's girls, Stephanie, Vanessa and Jeanette have big plans for where they want to go in mom's new ride. And now mom has a way of getting herself to the Contra Costa College of Culinary Arts where she's a student. And this time she'll be able to afford insurance because she just landed a job as a baker that starts next week. All of this because of a woman who poured out her heart and her bank account to a total stranger.

"God put her on my hard [sic] to do and the more I thought about, I thought oh I shouldn't do it. But forget it I'm going to do it," said Satterfield.

And on that day, Castellon drives her Impala to culinary school graduation she plans to begin giving back to Satterfield..

"I'm going to give my diploma to her," said Castellon.

"You earned it, not me," said Satterfield.


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