Stephanie, a single mother of two living in San Antonio, Texas, defines her life by going above and beyond for her family and community. Participating in outreach initiatives with her church. Volunteering for an organization that partners children with therapy animals. Attending support groups for young women. Doing any of the above requires a commitment – time, effort, and care. Stephanie does it all. Unfortunately, her car struggled to keep up. 

“I have a vehicle, right now… at the moment, it’s smoking from two different places under the hood… I can’t even tell you how much I’ve paid to get it fixed,” she recalls.

So, when she saw on the local news that Carvana Community Conexion was partnering with non-profit Driving for Single Parents for a car giveaway, she put an application in. 

“We give away cars to single parents who are very deserving… we get applications all the time… and selected Stephanie’s because she’s so incredible and has done so much, not just for her children but also for the community,” explains Cindy, the Founder and CEO of Driving Single Parents. 

“I was at home when they did a Zoom call with me, they just tell me that I’m getting the car and I just cried – what else can you do but cry?” follows Stephanie. 

“The reason I got an SUV is to help me and my mission of helping at-risk teenagers, at-risk youth, because I can fit six teenagers in my car – there are so many girls out there who don’t know their worth, and I really wish somebody would have been there for me,” she continues. 

What Is Conexion?

This Carvana car giveaway was made possible by Conexion, one of our employee communities. We sat down with Amanda, a Project Manager here at Carvana, to chat about Conexion and its mission. 

Hi Amanda! Tell us a little about yourself – what do you do here at Carvana?

“I actually started my Carvana career in Market Operations, where I was a Recruiting Team Lead – I recently transferred over to Process Development. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind in the best way… it’s a very lively, outgoing, customer-focused department and we hire some of the best people for it. It’s a lot of people who are very hungry to improve customer experiences in our industry and help Carvana move the needle in the right direction.”

Carvana team members prepare for a Carvana car giveaway.
Team members from Carvana Community Conexion, CarvanaCares, and Driving Single Parents present Stephanie with her vehicle.

Let’s talk about Conexion – what’s Conexion’s mission?

“Our mission is to build a community that educates people about – and highlights – the Latin heritage and culture at Carvana. It’s about creating a space for people to discover more about how they are, where they come from, and learning about people who are similar to them and come from different backgrounds.”

How did Conexion get started?

“Mackenzie Camarena and Jonathan Alonzo, our executive sponsor – who was actually someone my team and I recruited for – put it together. We reached out to all the community members who expressed interest to see what they wanted out of the community. We found that people wanted to get together and learn about the different cultures and food in Latin communities. So, many of our events are focused on the education portion, getting people together and celebrating our differences.”

Why is Conexion important to you?

“A lot of it has to do with how I grew up. Both my parents were born and raised in El Paso, Texas. My mom’s first language was Spanish. She went to school not knowing English yet, and my dad grew up a block away from her – he was actually her English-Speaking buddy in school; I love their story. They moved to California, and we grew up here – my parents were the first in their families to get a college education. My brother and I didn’t grow up knowing Spanish – they didn’t teach us because my mom struggled in school for a long time as a dual-language student.

We’d go back to visit family, and it was always one of the most exciting weeks of the summer. My uncle used every opportunity to pass down his experiences – his time in the war, what school was like, political movements he was advocating for – I think I say all of that long-windedly to bring it back to Conexion. Being in Conexion is like listening to my uncle and grandparents talk about their lives growing up; we get to listen to each other’s stories. It feels like a little piece of home at work.”

Cindy reacts to her Carvana car giveaway.
Cindy, Founder and CEO at Driving Single Parents, hugs Stephanie as she receives her car.

Other than this car giveaway, what are some of your favorite memories with Conexion?

“We had a virtual margarita and salsa-making event – Mark Gonzales, our host, was livestreaming making his favorite salsa and margaritas. His whole family was at his house, so we got to see his whole family – it felt like a typical get-together I’d have with my family.

And the giveaway – I know a lot of time and effort went into it from so many different teams. I think, especially at Carvana, we can understand the impact a vehicle can have. The times you have to run to a grocery store, or drop off the kids, or go to the doctor’s – it’s easy to underestimate the value of a car. Stephanie doesn’t want anything to stop her from helping her community. We helped one person, but it’s a domino effect – it will help so many.”

What does Conexion hope to accomplish in the future?

“We’re in the process of creating our event calendar for 2023. We want to have more in-person events for the next year – figuring out how we can make sure that our members across the country can participate in events with us. It’s a great way to connect and give back to the community. Potlucks for sharing recipes, movie nights – these are great ways to share culture, and we want to do more of that next year.”

What’s your advice for people who want to be more involved in their communities?

“Embrace being brave! Put yourself out there. If you’re a Carvanian, reach out to the Carvana Communities, think about starting one – I guarantee you’re not the only one interested in whatever you’re passionate about. I would also suggest attending events our communities organize – anything from trail cleanups to movie nights, everyone who goes is looking to connect with people around them.” 

We can’t wait to continue making a difference in the communities around us in 2023. To learn more about CarvanaCares, check out our CarvanaCares playlist on YouTube. Happy New Year!

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