February 2013 RV Care-A-Vanners Update

Featured News

Dear Care-A-Vanners,
There is so much going on with the RV Care-A-Vanner program that I was unable to cover it all in last month's column, so here is some more news. One of the initiatives that HFHI is undertaking is to form more partnerships between volunteer groups. We want to get young people volunteering and keep them involved with Habitat through their retirement as RV Care-A-Vanners. The comment I get often from HFHI staff is they can't wait to retire, buy an RV and become RV Care-A-Vanners. If you have ever had the opportunity to work with college kids, I am sure you have heard that dream more than once.

As a result of this newfound approach, partnerships among volunteer engagement departments are forming and the RV Care-A-Vanner program is at the center of many of these partnerships. We are in demand! The RV Care-A-Vanner program has a few things that make us unique. We are skilled, flexible, require little support and can get there in a hurry. That is why our partnership with Disaster Response has been a great success.

In January, we formed a partnership with HFHI partner Thrivent Builds and Joplin HFH. Thrivent teams are bringing volunteers and money to Joplin, funding five houses for 2013 in the efforts to rebuild after that devastating tornado nearly two years ago now. They need help from RV Care-A-Vanner house leaders to lead their teams and enhance the volunteer experience. It is remarkable what has been accomplished in Joplin, but there is much left to be done and I am so pleased that we are able to contribute. Dave and I and Jay and Joyce Rush will kick off this program in April.

Another new partnership is with Collegiate Challenge. Diane Gravlee is spearheading this effort. Many affiliates invite college groups and struggle to have enough construction supervision to give the kids a great experience. For those of you who have had the opportunity to work with Collegiate Challenge groups as we have, it is a wonderful match. We bring the skill, experience and mentoring and the kids are strong, energetic and eager to learn. Even though many of us have worked with Collegiate Challenge groups in the past, we are formalizing this partnership. Our first effort is in Albany, Ga., this March.
So, as you can see, the RV Care-A-Vanner program continues to expand with new opportunities coming our way. It is you Care-A-Vanners out there who are working so hard that are opening doors for this program. Keep up the great work and stay tuned for updates.

Don't forget to put April 21 through May 2, 2014, on your calendar for the 25th Anniversary Rally and Build in Springfield, Mo. I want to see you all there.

Mary Vandeveld
RV Care-A-Vanner coordinator


Why We Build
By Al Wheeler
We've come from many corners, some from near and some from far
Trucks towing fifth wheel trailers or coaches towing cars
They call us Care-A-Vanners we are here to volunteer
Here to do what's needed, what it is we never fear

We work with local volunteers giving freely of their time
Building homes for worthy families and helping change their lives
Our sense of satisfaction comes from gratitude we see
As we work beside the owners putting in sweat equity

We love to swing our hammers, drive some nails while framing walls
Then laying out the kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom and the halls
Sometimes we work on ladders, sometimes we're on our knees
Our bodies creak, we soldier on, for we are here to please

Putting up the sheeting is a cause of some distress
But building codes are what they are and yes we must confess
We think an awful lot of nails go in to every sheet
But we hammer on undaunted, which is not an easy feat

We lay flooring, we do baseboards, we hang doors and do it right
We work in darkened closets and in bathrooms by flashlight
We do caulking and paint windows; we paint doors and clean the tubs
We do anything John asks us, we lay sod and we plant shrubs

We clean sinks and we clean toilets, install lock sets on the doors
We leave every window sparkling clean and a shimmer on the floors
We don't believe in whining and never would complain
You see it's such a joy for us, even working through the pain

We have fun and we may joke a bit but that does not detract
From the job that we are doing every day at Habitat
We thank the local volunteers who work here through the year
You accept us all just as we are, we sure feel welcome here

This would never work for us if not for Joanna and John
The encouragement you give us makes it easy to go on
Your entertaining stories and your easygoing ways
Bring us untold satisfaction as we work here every day.

Lord if only life today was as simple as this rhyme
And if each and every person would only take the time
To use the talent you've given us to help our fellow man
The vision of Habitat would extend throughout the land.

Team leader corner
Thanks to our JOYOUS January team leaders. They are: Dyana Todd, Jack and Mary Mueller, Ray and Mary Kay Johnson, Jeff and Sharon Johnson, Lavern and Sue Clarke, Jeff and Judith Rothwell, Donald Bowman and Lynnette Apo, and Richard and Ann Corr. I cannot begin to tell you how much easier you have all made my life. Thank you!

For anyone thinking about serving as a team leader but unsure of what it entails, I would be happy to send you a copy of our team leader guidelines, which outline the tasks and responsibilities.
Also, don't forget to check the box indicating team leader interest when you register for a build. If everyone did this just once each year, we could easily cover the builds.

Team leaders have asked me if they can email the affiliate to gather information for the welcome letter. While an email is acceptable, a phone call is preferable. This begins the collaborative relationship between the team leaders and the affiliate. It also allows for clarifying any area of confusion (e.g., "what's the difference between 20 amps and 30 amps?") or concern. This is especially true for affiliates hosting their first group of Care-A-Vanners. So, please consider calling the affiliate with the affiliate team leader checklist in hand.

Finally, team leaders are needed for the following builds. If you are able to help, please contact me at bsawyer@habitat.org.

February 24 - March 10 Hobbs, N.M.
March 3-17 Macon, Ga.
March 10-24 Dade City, Fla.
March 24 - April 7 Hobbs, N.M.
March 24 - April 7 Dade City, Fla.
March 31 - April 14 Tuscaloosa, Ala., disaster recovery
March 31 - April 14 Tahlequah, Okla.

Thank you,
Brenda Sawyer
Team leader coordinator


From the registration desk
Calling all our wonderful and talented builders! Have you checked out the build listing page to see how many builds we've got going this year? It's amazing that 2013 has barely started and we've got more than 100 builds up and running so far! From coast to coast in the US and Canada there is sure to be a build out there for you. Several of these are scheduling RV Care-A-Vanners for the first time - let's wow them with our passion, skills and dedication so that we get invited back often. Many of these first-time affiliates are astounded at the synergy of our teams and how much gets accomplished in the short time we are there. Let's get these registrations rolling in and builds filled quickly. Bring 'em on, I am ready! Click this link to get started - http://www.habitat.org/cd/rv/schedule.aspx

Lu Tillotson
RV registration desk

Disaster Response

  • West Liberty, Ky., (formally known as Morehead, Ky.): We are in need of house leaders from Aug. 11, 2013, through Nov. 2, 2013. Can you read a blueprint, 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 mvandeveld@habitat.org. I have builds listed in support of our house leaders starting April 7, 2013, so sign up and make a difference.
  • Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Tuscaloosa is rebuilding following the massive tornado in 2011. They now have room for eight RVs at their volunteer facility. We have yet to fill all those build slots this winter. I have just listed the Tuscaloosa builds for summer and fall starting in August and running through December. No experience is required to work at Tuscaloosa and I have heard from the builders that have been there this winter that it is a great place to work.
  • Super Storm Sandy Relief: Habitat International is currently working with the local affiliates to respond to the disaster. Affiliates are just doing their assessment of needs. I know we will have a presence there this summer, so stay tuned. For those of you who have expressed an interest, I am compiling a list of potential volunteers and I would be happy to put you on it. You can contact me at mvandeveld@habitat.org.
  • Joplin, Mo.: I still have a need for a house leader Oct. 7-12, 2013. Our responsibility is to lead a Thrivent team of 10 to 12 members and enhance their volunteer experience. There will be local construction supervision available. If you might be interested, please contact me for more information at mvandeveld@habitat.org.

trips Upcoming Builds

We add new builds whenever an affiliate schedules one. We try to update the list on Fridays 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. Just click on the build list

Collegiate Challenge

Collegiate Challenge program and Care-A-Vanners
The Care-A-Vanner desk is revitalizing the program to enlist Care-A-Vanners who like to work with students in the Collegiate Challenge program and to help oversee them at build sites. Starting in 2014, the Collegiate Challenge office will be using an application form for colleges to complete that will include such questions as whether they could use help supervising their visiting students and, if so, if they have a suitable place to park a Care-A-Vanner's RV.

For our part, we want to start putting together a list of Care-A-Vanners who would work with a local construction supervisor in overseeing students for a week or more. If you would be interested in helping in this way, please email Diane Gravlee at dggravlee@gmail.com and I will put you on the email list to receive information about where and when supervisory help is wanted. Working with students is a wonderful experience; they are energetic, fun, willing to try any task and they do all the heavy work! We hope to offer a wide range of places and dates for 2014, so let me know of your interest.

There is already a current need. The affiliate in Port Townsend, Wash., is looking for one rig for supervisory help the week of March 25-29. Contact Diane Gravlee at dggravlee@gmail.com to sign up and I will provide you with more information.

Diane Gravlee
Collegiate Challenge coordinator

trips Anniversary Celebration

"It sure beats rockin' on my front porch."

Over the years, many hundreds of RV Care-A-Vanners have expressed the meaning of the work which they contribute in various ways. The title above is one of the most succinct and meaningful. The Care-A-Vanner who voiced this response said something which we can all understand and agree with. Most RV Care-A-Vanners are considered to be senior citizens and all still have the great desire to continue to make contributions that will be appreciated and valued.

This Habitat for Humanity program has all the elements that, over the years, all of us have found make our participation richly rewarding. From the very start almost 25 years ago, it was about "scratching our travel itch" by traveling originally as the "RV Gypsies," then as RV Care-A-Vanners, while teaming up with others and having a great time working hard. I should probably also mention the huge benefit realized by the communities in which our teams have built homes.

Here is input from another RV Care-A-Vanner: "I stay physically and mentally active and I know that my contribution is really appreciated. Because of my help and the work of so many other volunteers, a child will grow up in a simple, decent home."

What more can a person ask from an activity which many of us seek to do after retirement, or before retirement, for that matter? Increasingly, RV Care-A-Vanners is adding younger persons to its ranks and they have joined in with great results. For some, Care-A-Vanning is a day job with which one can work "from home," meaning the RV after the day's work is finished. For others it's simply a way of expanding life's experiences between jobs or schools.

We are closing in on 25 wonderful years of productivity, teamwork, great times, dedications, grateful families in new homes and our own memories and reminiscences. If you have not been "on the road" for a while, our celebration in Springfield, Mo.,  in April 2014 will be a great opportunity to meet up again with other wonderful people whom you have not seen in a while, as well as greet new friends who are currently on the road.

A build project is planned for Springfield, Mo., for multiple homes in a Habitat subdivision, as well as other community improvement programs. A rally event is planned in the middle of our build in which we will celebrate the 25 years of building and the people who have gone before us and made it all possible to be this successful.

For those who are still RV-ing, there will be sites with and without utilities, and if you are no longer RV-ing, there will be reasonably priced hotels very near our build site. Make your plans now to join in this landmark event and to give it your generous financial support as well as your time. 

We hope to raise enough money to fund two houses at the 25th celebration. Online donation to the 25th anniversary fund is not yet available but coming soon. To donate by mail, 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."

If you have any recommendations, please send them to me at ganoja@gmail.com.

Joe and Jane Gano
25th anniversary rally coordinators

Welcome new Care-A-Vanners

Karen Abbe, Jack Bishop and Sybil Bolander, Gerald and Christie Brown, Kenneth and Mary Lee Caldwell, Bob and Mary Christians, Howard and Carole Clayton, Tom and Sue Cook, Michael Evans, Randy Gaugler, Mickey Glover and Cheryl Smith, Robert and Sally Hall, Diane Helgesen, Larry Johnson, George Kepler, David and Cheryl McCutcheon, Jana Marko, Joe Murtaugh, Robert and Kathy Neuendorf, Glen Olson, Donald and Frances Page, Ove and Barbara Rasmussen, William and Linda Roberts, Creston and Sharon Shmidt, Andrew and Cathy Siegel and Shawn and Chris Sweeney.

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!

 Safety Corner

RV Care-A-Vanners will be increasingly involved in rebuilding projects subsequent to natural disasters.  These types of builds require some special safety precautions to be aware of. 

For building in previously flooded areas: 
Flooding can cause the disruption of water purification and sewage disposal systems, overflowing of toxic waste sites and dislodgement of chemicals previously stored above ground. These contaminants cause sickness in workers and others who come in contact with contaminated floodwater. Most cases of sickness associated with flood conditions are brought about by ingesting contaminated food or water. Tetanus, however, can be acquired from contaminated soil or water entering broken areas of the skin, such as cuts, abrasions or puncture wounds. Pools of standing or stagnant water become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, increasing the risk of encephalitis, West Nile Virus or other mosquito-borne diseases.

Precautions include:
Avoid waterborne disease by washing your hands with soap and clean, running water, especially before work breaks, meal breaks and at the end of the work shift.

Don't assume that any water in flooded or surrounding areas is safe unless the local or state authorities have specifically declared it to be safe.

Decrease the risk of mosquito and other insect bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and by using insect repellants.

Wash your hands with soap and water. If the water source has not been declared safe it must be boiled or disinfected before preparing or eating foods, after using the bathroom, after participating in flood cleanup activities and after handling articles contaminated by flood waters.

These precautions should be considered and evaluated based on your particular build situation. 

Happy Care-a-Vanning,
Frank Peccia
Safety officer

Questions, cancellations or concerns?
1-800-HABITAT, ext. 7534
1-229-410-7534 (direct)
RV Care-A-Vanner staff contact info

Register for a build online
Step-by-step instructions

Roster updates
please email updated roster information to rvinfodesk@habitat.org or ltillotson@habitat.org or call 1-229-410-7534. begin_of_the_skype_highlighting    

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 rvinfodesk@habitat.org.

Donate to RV Care-A-Vanners
How to donate money or vehicles

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