December finds Dave and I in warm Americus, Ga., the "home base" of the RV Care-A-Vanner program even though most of the desk personnel are spread all over the country. Coming home to Americus and being parked across the street from the first Habitat house reminded me of "Why We Build." Many of you have gotten T-shirts this past year with that slogan on the back. What does it mean? It is about the stories of Habitat for Humanity and I want to start a new column in the newsletter with stories from you about why you build.
What was my inspiration? We invited some good RV Care-A-Vanner friends, Gord and Helen Grant, to have Thanksgiving dinner with us. We were alone and they were building just up the road in Macon. Sitting in the sun in the middle of Habitat Street in front of our rig (not much traffic around here), Gord related a story about a college student whom we had all worked with the last three years. He suggested I use it as inspiration for my column, but as many of you know, if you come to me with a good idea, I put you in charge of it! Ask any of our growing RV Care-A-Vanner desk staff. So Gord and Helen wrote our initial Why We Build column.
I want to hear your stories. Why Do You build? Let's inspire each other with some wonderful stories.
RV Care-A-Vanner coordinator
Why We Build
By Gord and Helen Grant
Earlier this year my wife and I had an experience that really brought home the positive impact of the work we RV Care-A-Vanners do in support of Habitat for Humanity.
For the past three years we have worked with a group of college students from New York. One young lady in particular had been part of the team every year; she was a hard worker but rather quiet so we did not know much about her.
Near the end of their week with us earlier this year at their evening sharing circle, this girl felt comfortable enough to finally share her story with her fellow students, which one of the chaperones then shared with us.
As a young girl, she was headed for trouble. Her family's home was "on the wrong side of the tracks," she was with a group of friends who were a bad influence and her schooling was suffering.
Then, while she was still fairly young, her family earned a Habitat house. In a more favorable environment she made new, more positive friends. Her performance at school improved dramatically. Fast forward to the present, she is now in her final year to attain degrees in both math and science.
She was quite convinced that the start of her path to success was moving into their Habitat home and now she was giving back.
We had heard such stories from others but it had a much bigger impact seeing it firsthand. Of the many experiences we have had that make us grateful that we were led to the RV Care-A-Vanner program, this one was really special and we thank those who, through their volunteer efforts many years ago, made it possible for this young lady to realize such a positive future.
Team leader corner
Hello from Americus, Ga. Mary Vandeveld and I are here looking for ways to keep you all involved with lots of interesting builds. My contribution is short this month as I am off for a real vacation.
My thanks this month goes out to our nifty November team leaders. They are Dyana Todd, Harry Fritts, Ray and Mary Kay Johnson, David and Nancy Triebel, Gord and Helen Grant, John and Janie Bare and Isy and Cathy Nagel. Your willingness to serve as Team leaders is greatly appreciated and makes my job so much easier!
I know that many of you would prefer to be a helper than the one in charge. For our program to continue to be successful, it is essential that everyone take their turn being a team leader. You do not have to have the skills of a construction supervisor to lead. Organizational and communication skills are more important. Just a reminder that all of us on the RV Care-A-Vanner desk are volunteers and when there is no team leader it is yours truly who must try to pull everything together from afar. So, when you agree to lead a team you are not only helping the program but also helping me! Okay, enough pleading.
Thank you for all you do. We are wishing you a wonderful holiday season.
Team leader coordinator
From the registration desk
Greetings from the sunny south - Larry and I are slowly migrating to Florida, along with the rest of the winter snowbirds. After a quick stop at the Habitat offices in Americus, the Savannah area will be our home as we enjoy the upcoming holidays with our family.
This month I thought I'd share one of the questions that frequently comes up - what constitutes an RV for the RV Care-A-Vanner program? An RV (recreational vehicle) can be a motor home (large or small), a pull-behind trailer, a fifth wheel trailer - usually an RV that is self-contained, meaning it has shower and toilet facilities. How about a tent or a pop-up trailer? Well, that depends on where the affiliate has arranged parking for the CAVers. If it's a regular campground, fairground, etc., that has a bathhouse and restrooms located on the premises, then anyone with a non-self-contained camping equipment such as a tent or pop-up is more than welcome to join the build. However, if there are no amenities, it may be better to find a place that provides the necessary facilities. If you are in doubt as to what services are available, please contact us at the RV info desk for build-specific information.
Until next time, stay safe during the holidays - and enjoy a blessed Christmas wherever you may be.
RV registration desk
- Hurricane Sandy relief: I know this is not the season for RVs in the Northeast, but there is a need for hurricane Sandy relief. Habitat International is currently working with the local affiliates to respond to the disaster. Some of the smaller affiliates are in need of help from RV Care-A-Vanners to lead volunteer crews for repair or clean-up projects. There may also be a need for help in setting up and managing a volunteer center to manage volunteers from the area. Care-A-Vanners can bring a safety focus to the work that will be critical in this area. If you could be available in the New York/New Jersey Area for a period of around one month beginning in late November or December, please contact Mary Vandeveld at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- West Liberty, KY (formally known as Morehead, KY): We are in need of house leaders from June 16, 2013 through November 2, 2013. Can you read a blueprint, problem solve construction issues and lead a group of capable RV Care-A-Vanners? Then you can be a house leader. Once I have house leaders in place, I will list builds in support of those house leaders. Remember, West Liberty lost 500 housing units, many low-income, in the March 2, 2012 tornado. They really need our help there! If you would like to sign up as a house leader, please contact me at email@example.com. Watch the website for builds to be listed soon, beginning in April 2013.
- Tuscaloosa, AL: Tuscaloosa is rebuilding following the massive tornado in 2011. They have room for two RVs at their volunteer facility. We have yet to fill all those build slots this winter. If the builds are full, they welcome drop ins. There is plenty of work! You just need to find your own RV sites. I would suggest Lake Lurleen State Park. Dave and I have stayed there and it is a beautiful park just east of town.
We add new builds whenever an affiliate schedules one. We try to update the list on Fridays. Click on the build list, so that you can check over the weekend to see if any new ones have been added. Builds are now sorted by date when the list comes up. You can sort by state by clicking the link at the top of the list.
Springfield, MO: We have two builds that just listed for this affiliate which is the site of our 25th anniversary celebration. We wanted to give the affiliate an opportunity to work with RV Care-A-Vanners before our 2014 Rally build. The dates for these builds are April 21, 2013 through May 4, 2013 and May 5, 2013 through May 19, 2013. Let's fill these builds to show our support of their sponsorship of our 25th anniversary.
RV Care-A-Vanners program will be celebrating its 25th anniversary Spring 2014, based on its adoption by HFHI as part of its sponsored programs in 1989. The earliest years of this concept were actually much before that – starting with a visit to Americus by Jack and Lois Wolters, as many as 15 years earlier.
The Wolters were volunteers in Americus, Lois doing administrative work for then-CEO Millard Fuller, and Jack working on home builds there. They traveled to Americus in their RV and used it as their residence while this work was going on. During conversations around the headquarters, a new concept was born, that of inviting other RVers to travel to build sites to augment local volunteer help.
Originally, and for the next 11 years, this group of RV travelers were known as the RV Gypsies, as the participants traveled from their homes to the build sites in their RVs - be they motor homes, fifth wheels, travel trailers, or nicely-appointed personal travel vans. All classes were represented, A, B, C and unclassified. The common characteristic is that they all had wheels, and their owners were motivated individuals making a difference in their own lives and those of the new home owners.
As the concept grew beyond Americus and the U.S. borders, it was out of consideration for the European participants that the name RV Care-A-Vanners was adopted in 1998. Three years later, the first international build by RV Care-A-Vanners was accomplished in New Zealand.
Since then, the program and its support staff, participant population, affiliate base and home owner beneficiaries have increased geometrically. We have done many good things in these 25-plus years and we deserve to have a party.
Stay tuned for details of what will be coming our way in spring 2014.
We hope to raise enough money to fund at least one house at the 25th celebration. If you would like to donate before the end of the year, please send a check payable to Habitat for Humanity to:
Habitat for Humanity
RV Care-A-Vanners 25th anniversary fund
121 Habitat Street
Americus, GA 31709
In the memo line of the check write "Project Code 1113001." Online donation to the 25th anniversary fund is not yet available but coming soon.
Welcome new Care-A-Vanners
Kari Crawley and Georgia Mitchell, Donald Drumm, Harry and Rebekah Fischer, Robert and Michelle Hazlett, Tom and Diane Hinkle, Keith and Donna McDaniel, Rick and Anne Perreault, Ernest Priebe, Charles and Charyl Tabscott, Mike and Joyce Thomas, Pamela VanderWeele, John and Maudeen Wachsmith.
Our apologies if we have included a seasoned Care-A-Vanner or if this is a duplication. Habitat for Humanity is grateful for the work that you do!
We have focused our safety articles so far on new construction. A number of RV Care-A-Vanners work on Brush with Kindness projects as well. These present some unique safety challenges as you are working around or in an existing structure. Instead of a controlled job site you are in someone's yard or house and subject to the homeowner's existing conditions. Some safety items to keep in mind on these types of projects are:
Yard cleanup projects - Yard tools and power tools
Yard tools not being used should be keep out the way where people walk. Turn the shovels and rakes face down. Most people who have worked around yards extensively have at some point stepped on the exposed tines of a rake and had the handle fly up and either near miss or hit them in the face. Be careful where you swing weed cutting tools so you don't hit a coworker. Cutting branches on trees in a yard cleanup project may require that you clear people from the area underneath. It goes without saying that safety glasses and gloves are prudent safety items to wear.
With power tools the issues become more complicated. If you are plugging in electrical tools like a hedge trimmer, remember that the outlet is probably not GFCI protected. You'll need to have the affiliate provide a corded GFCI breaker. Some tools may be gas powered like line trimmers. These can fling gravel and bits of branches at yourself and coworkers. Make sure your coworkers are out of harm's way and you should be wearing a face shield, not just safety glasses.
Other types of projects, like roof or siding repair, require that you follow the typical safety procedures under new construction. Two items to be aware of here are: 1) On re-siding projects be aware of lead based paint in tearing off old siding. This may require lead paint abatement procedures which are too extensive to go into in this month's article. 2) On roof repair you will be tearing off old roofing and taking it off the roof. The roof will have old staples and nails sticking up on the roof decking and the shingles falling to the ground will cause a walking and trip hazard. Dedicate a person or two to clean up the shingles on the ground right away to keep the walking area safe. Also, wear tough soled shoes on the roof to prevent a shoe penetration.
These are some of the safety issues to be aware of on Brush with Kindness projects.
Questions, cancellations or concerns?
1-800-HABITAT, ext. 7534
RV CAV staff contact info
Team Leaders needed
Some of the more popular builds will show as "FULL" on the website because we are holding a spot for a team leader. Please, if you are able to serve as a team leader for any of these builds, contact me ASAP at my new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Jan. 6-20, Thibodaux, LA
- Jan. 13-27, Hobbs, NM
- Jan. 27-Feb. 10, Thibodaux, LA
- Jan. 27-Feb. 10, Hobbs, NM
- Feb. 3-27, Macon, GA
- Feb. 10-24, Hobbs, NM
- Feb. 24-March 10, Hobbs, NM
- March 10-24, Hobbs, NM
- March 10-24, Dade City, FL
- March 24-April 7, Hobbs, NM
Register for a build online
Please email updated roster information to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-229-410-7534.
Report Care-A-Vanner hours
Help us keep track of total volunteer hours contributed, and partner families served. Please email these stats from your drop-in or ongoing builds to email@example.com.
Donate to RV Care-A-Vanners
How to donate money or vehicles