Two children run about, rambunctious and giggling while their father, Arthur Caberto, watches fondly. The children, Antony, 7, and Gemma, 8, proudly show off their bedrooms while deftly dodging furniture and talking over one another, competing for attention.
Caberto, 56, of San Francisco was diagnosed with stage three blood cancer in 2009. Two years ago, while he was still in recovery and with his family sleeping on the floor of his mother’s home in the Ingleside district, he wondered if this day would ever come.
Finding an affordable apartment became a priority back then, and he eventually found one in the Outer Sunset. But he couldn’t afford furnishings.
But with financial help from The Chronicle’s Season of Sharing, Caberto was finally able to give his children something he says they have never had – beds of their own.
“The beds gave them a sense of security and alleviated a lot of stress for me,” Caberto said. “I was so full of gratitude, my thoughts were finally: I’m going to get through this.”
Caberto is a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy from 1974 to 1977. Since then he has worked as a call taker, a road assistance dispatcher, and in customer service with The Chronicle’s circulation department. He currently is not working due to his illness.
His main priorities have always been to take care of and raise his children, but in 2009, as he struggled with multiple myeloma, money became a concern.
With his wife, Anne, and children, Caberto moved into his mother’s cramped house, sleeping on the floor and couch. But later, while his cancer was in remission, Caberto knew that something had to change.
“My mom’s house isn’t safe for the kids to run around in and I have to make sure my children are cared for,” he said.
Dad gets dual roles
Things got more chaotic when his wife took their youngest daughter, Sienna, 6, to a center in Arizona that specializes in autism.
“I had to step up and be both mom and dad for my kids and had to take care of a lot of things my wife used to do,” he said.
But even after finding a place of their own, they continued to struggle financially as Caberto was unable to find beds and furniture he could afford. A solution was found, however, when the Department of Veterans Affairs referred Caberto and 20 other vets to the Season of Sharing Fund.
“I had never been in this situation before,” Caberto said. “I was very self-reliant, but after my multiple myeloma it just got to the point where I needed to ask for help.”
Caberto is ready to move forward and hopes to spend time volunteering and helping other veterans.
“I want to be someone else’s miracle now,” he says. “I want to pay it forward.”
He also wants to go back to school and study communications through the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program.
“I don’t want to be limited. I know I am capable of more, and setting a good example for my children is very important to me,” he said.