January 2013 RV Care-A-Vanners Update

 Featured News

Dear Care-A-Vanners,
As I begin my second year of sitting in this chair, I thought it was time that I update you on the progress and direction of the Program. This has been a great year for us with much being accomplished and many plans for the future underway, but most important is the work you as RV Care-A-Vanners have done to help eliminate substandard unsafe housing.

First, a few statistics from the fiscal year through June 30th, 2012. We completed 108 affiliate-sponsored build projects in 48 cities serving nearly 300 families. We had over 1,400 builders working, with 214 new Care-A-Vanners added to the program, completing nearly 105,000 volunteer hours. I am especially proud our dedicated team of Care-A-Vanner Desk volunteers. Every one of them, now numbering ten, I can count on to keep their job/project moving ahead in a timely fashion. The Care-A-Vanner Desk staff donated nearly 3,000 hours of their time to making the program run smoothly. You can find a list of your Care-A-Vanner desk staff here. If you bump into any of the desk staff on a build, be sure to give them a big Care-A-Vanner hug and thank them for the great work they are doing.

Our biggest initiative this year was our Disaster Response program launched this past summer. There is a huge need for skilled builders and leaders post-disaster during the rebuild. RV Care-A-Vanners can meet this need and have. We had a presence in Henryville, Indiana, Dry Ridge and Morehead, Kentucky rebuilding after the March 2, 2012 tornado. We also have teams in Tuscaloosa, Alabama this winter and I am exploring other areas of need. Our first Disaster Response Course will be held in March of 2013. I just completed a planning session for that while I was in Americus.

I am busy working with the HFHI Safety department and our own RV Care-A-Vanner Safety Officer, Frank Peccia, to get a HFHI Safety Certification Program up and running to be offered at the Disaster Response Course, the 25th Anniversary Rally and eventually online. We could then aid our host affiliates in upgrading their safety programs to come in line with new OSHA rules and regulations. We hope eventually to have some grant money to bring to our affiliates for needed safety equipment.

Probably our most exciting future event is our 25th Anniversary Rally in Springfield, Missouri to be held in April 2014. I want to see everyone there, so put it on your calendar now. The rally will be held April 26-28 with a build week prior to and after the rally. We hope to build four houses in two weeks, so we will need every Care-A-Vanner in the country there! Joe and Jane Gano are putting the event together. There will be regular updates in the newsletter on how to sign up for the Rally and the Builds.

Finally, none of this would be possible without the great support we are receiving from HFHI. They have given me everything I have asked for. We now have two more laptops for the Care-A-Vanner Desk team and I have access to the full resources of HFHI and most importantly, the RV Care-A-Vanner Program is getting noticed. Together, we are making a difference.

So access our website and sign up for those builds. We now have 97 builds listed for 2013, which means we will far surpass our 108 builds this last year. I need everyone working! God bless and thank you for all you are doing to make this program such a success.

Mary Vandeveld
RV Care-A-Vanner coordinator


Why We Build
By Rick and Ginger Rembold,
Baker City, OR

A few years before our 2012 retirement, we were asking ourselves the inevitable question, 'What do we want to do next?' We knew we wanted to travel, especially in the spring and fall. As elementary and middle school teachers, these seasons had always been rather busy! We also recognized that, after decades of helping kids, we weren't about to stop! We knew we wanted to explore volunteer opportunities as part of our Christian responsibility to give back.

We had supported Habitat financially over the years but, with no local chapter, we hadn't participated in any builds. Rick was intrigued with the possibility of combining Habitat and travel. He was especially enthused with, after thirty years of looking for small improvements in a student or class at the end of a day, the idea of being able to enjoy the sense of accomplishment construction usually afforded. Ginger found Care-A-Vanners on the website; we bought an 18' self-contained trailer, and signed up for a build in Las Cruces, NM for the following fall. On Rick's LAST day of teaching, we added another build in Pagosa Springs, CO, to our list.

We're hooked! The work and camaraderie are all we hoped for. The end of the day sense of accomplishment is definitely present! The house grows before your eyes! Improvements are magical! What we didn't anticipate was the time with the partner families. The thank-you's, the hugs, and the tears shared with the families were almost overwhelming. But it is the excitement in their eyes as they see their home evolving, a look that is rivaled only by Christmas - THAT is why we build! And will keep building!

Team leader corner
Happy New Year. Hope your holidays were pleasant.

Our thanks this month go out to our Dedicated December Team Leaders. They are: Jay and Joyce Rush; Ray and Mary Kay Johnson; John and Janie Bare; and Floyd and Jean Whiting. Team Leaders are such an important part of the success of the RV Care-A-Vanners.

Team Leaders, please remember that, in addition to the wonderful team in front of you, there is also an entire team behind you. The RV Care-A-Vanner Desk is here to answer your questions and support you in whatever way possible. In return we ask that you please let us know of any incident that occurs during the build. This includes injury, serious illness, hospitalization of a team member, early departure of a team member, or if a team member is the victim of a crime. Obviously, your first responsibility is to keep your team safe. But, please inform someone at the desk ASAP. We have the resources of HFHI that may be needed or appropriate given the situation.

Also, Team Leaders, if you identify someone on your team that you think has what it takes to be a Team Leader, please consider talking to them about it and perhaps mentoring them during the build. Remember, construction skills are not as important as communication and organizational skills.

Brenda Sawyer
Team leader coordinator


Disaster Response

  • West Liberty, KY (formally known as Morehead, KY): We are in need of house leaders from August 11, 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 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, 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 west of town. I am likely to be listing builds throughout the rest of the year in Tuscaloosa soon, so watch the website.
  • Super Storm Sandy Relief: I know this is not the season for RVs in the Northeast, but there is a need for Super Storm 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 please contact Mary Vandeveld at mvandeveld@habitat.org.

trips In Memoriam: Nancy Hill

By Tony Campbell

On December 21, 2012 Nancy Hill's long battle with Scleroderma came to an end. She and her husband, Dennis, retired teachers, have participated in or led dozens of builds in eight states beginning in 2001. They loved building with Care-A-Vanners and with the Ramblin' Builders (Holiday Rambler owners). They enjoyed traveling in Michigan's upper peninsula � many of their builds were in Marquette. Another favorite build was Alice, Texas.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Dennis and his family. Nancy's obituary may be found here http://www.rothmuirfuneralhome.com/94/Nancy-Hill-Memorial. Dennis has suggested donations to the RV Care-A-Vanner Program in Nancy's memory.

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.

trips Collegiate Challenge

We have a special need in Albany, Georgia. They need help with Colligate Challenge from Feb 18th to March 30th. If you are available to help oversee a group of students as they build any of that time, please contact Diane Gravlee at dggravlee@gmail.com . RV parking will be provided for your rig and there is a local construction supervisor.

 Featured Builds

Spartanburg, SC: Needs 3 more rigs to fill the build. January 20 � February 3, 2013.

trips Anniversary Celebration

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 RV's - be they motor homes, 5th 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, its support staff, its participant population, its affiliate base and its 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

James Dirk and Barbara Grissinger, Marilyn Fitchett, John and Teresa Franklin, Alex Glass, Richard and Beth Hieber, Ken Horkavy, Robert and Rosemary Lockhart, Jeff Miller, Jerry and Becky Miller, David Payne, Ron Sand and Carole Montre-Sand, John Shira, Paul and Theresa St. Martin, Dennis Thran, Mike and Coleen Whittington, Jonathan Wallerson.

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

This month I would like to focus on safe practices of a particular product which seems to be very popular for Habitat home exteriors, Hardie Plank siding. I have installed more Hardie siding than I care to think about. However, I have not always worked with the product in the safest way. Below are some of the dos and don'ts directly from Hardie. Please read them and you may find some ways to increase your safety and those of your co-workers when install Hardie siding.

Managing Silica Exposures
James Hardie� believes that safety should be of paramount importance to everyone and is committed to the safe use of its products. James Hardie has established the following Recommended Cutting Practices as an easy-to-follow, practical guide to help you reduce the risk of potential silica exposures.


  1. Position cutting station so that wind will blow dust away from user and others in working area.
  2. Use one of the following methods:
    1. Best:
      1. Score and snap for 3 x 5 Hardie panels
      2. Shears (Pneumatic or Handheld) for Hardie Siding
    2. Better:
      1. Dust reducing circular saw equipped with a HardieBlade� saw blade and HEPA vacuum extraction
    3. Good:
      1. Dust reducing circular saw with a HardieBlade saw blade (only use for low to moderate cutting)


  1. Cut only using score and snap, or shears (manual, electric or pneumatic).
  2. Position cutting station in well-ventilated area
  • NEVER use a power saw indoors
  • NEVER use a circular saw blade that does not carry the HardieBlade saw blade trademark
  • NEVER dry sweep. Use wet suppression or HEPA Vacuum

Important Note: For maximum protection (lowest respirable dust production), James Hardie recommends always using "Best"-level cutting methods where feasible.

James Hardie encourages you to always minimize all dust exposures. As such, properly-fitted NIOSH approved respirators (e.g. N-95) can be used in conjunction with Recommended Cutting Instructions to provide additional protection against silica exposures. NOTE: Prior to use, follow the respirator manufacturer's use instructions and comply with all applicable government regulations.

Cutting using the score and snap method (3 x 5 Panels)
By using a straight-edge as a guide, score with carbide tipped scoring knife.
Snap the sheet upwards toward the scored line.

Cutting with shears (Hardie Siding)
For smoother edges, always cut from the back of the product with the top two blades of shear flush against the board.

Reducing dust exposures with a dust-reducing circular saw
You should set-up cutting station in well-ventilated, outdoor area with wind blowing dust away from user and others in area. It is strongly recommended that a dust-reducing saw be connected to a HEPA vacuum to further reduce respirable dust exposures. NEVER use a high speed power tool in a poorly ventilated or covered area such as a garage, patio, or carport.

Diablo� HardieBlade�
With only four poly-crystalline diamond teeth, the Diablo� HardieBlade� by Freud Tools will produce less respirable dust as compared to a traditional framing or masonary blade when cutting fiber cement products. James Hardie� recommends that only the HardieBlade be used.
NEVER use a continuous Rim Diamond Blades (or segmented masonry blades) as they can create unsafe dust levels when cutting fiber cement products.
NEVER use a grinder to cut as it may generate unhealthy dust levels.


James Hardie� products contain respirable crystalline silica, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and is considered by IARC and NIOSH to be a cause of cancer from some occupational sources. Breathing excessive amounts of respirable silica dust can also cause a disabling and potentially fatal lung disease called silicosis, and has been linked with other diseases. Some studies suggest smoking may increase these risks. During installation or handling: (1) work in outdoor areas with ample ventilation; (2) use fiber cement shears for cutting or, where not feasible, use a HardieBlade� saw blade and dust-reducing circular saw attached to a HEPA vacuum; (3) warn others in the immediate area; (4) wear a properly-fitted, NIOSH-approved dust mask or respirator (e.g. N-95) in accordance with applicable government regulations and manufacturer instructions to further limit respirable silica exposures. During clean-up, use HEPA vacuums or wet cleanup methods - never dry sweep. For further information, refer to our installation instructions and Material Safety Data Sheet available at www.jameshardie.com or by calling 1-800-9HARDIE (1-800-942-7343). FAILURE TO ADHERE TO OUR WARNINGS, MSDS, AND INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS MAY LEAD TO SERIOUS PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH.
Copyright 2012
James Hardie Building Products, Inc.

Keep safe,
Frank Peccia
Safety officer


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

Team Leaders needed
The most common reason I get for someone declining my request to serve as Team Leader for a build is "I'd rather be a follower than a leader". Let's face it that is true for most people. The problem is, we need someone to take the lead on each build. The RV Care-A-Vanner program is growing nicely due to the effort of all of us on the Care-A-Vanner Desk, as well as those of you in the field that let affiliates and potential Care-A-Vanners know about the program. If you are asked to be a TL for a build, there is a reason why YOU have been chosen. Factors I consider include whether there is someone on the team who has experience as a team leader, whether they have recently led a build (and should, therefore, get a "pass"), how many newbies are on the build; how much Care-A-Vanner experience a person has (at least 3 builds is best); and whether the affiliate has experience with Care-A-Vanners which can make the Team Leader's job a lot easier.

If each volunteer served as a Team Leader just once per year, we could make it work. It's not hard; ask anyone who has served as a Team Leader. Please contact me to learn more.

So, with that in mind, Team Leaders are needed for the following builds:

Jan 13 � Jan 27 Macon, GA
Jan 13 � Jan 27 Hobbs, NM
Jan 20 � Feb 3 Spartanburg, SC
Jan 27 � Feb 10 Hobbs, NM
Feb10 � Feb 24 Hobbs, NM
Feb 24 � Mar 10 Hobbs, NM
Mar 10 � Mar 24 Dade City, FL
Mar 24 � Apr 7 Dade City, FL

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.

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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