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RV Volunteers Hit the Road for First Global Trip

RV Volunteers Hit the Road for First Global Trip

AMERICUS, Ga., April 30 - Habitat for Humanity International volunteers are packing up their hammers and heading south-way south-as part of the RV Care-A-Vanners first-ever international trip. The mobile volunteer group will be winging its way to New Zealand in May to help build Habitat houses while they tour the land down under in recreational vehicles.

On May 1, RV Care-A-Vanner volunteers will fly into Christchurch, where they will rent what New Zealanders call “caravans.” After getting accustomed to driving their RVs on the “wrong” side of the road, the volunteers will make their way to the South Island to build Habitat houses in Invercagill. A ferry will then take the group to a build in Whangerei on the North Island. Sightseeing excursions along the way will include a visit with members of a native Maori tribe, a boat cruise, tours of Milford Sound and glow worm caves, and a bird-watching expedition to see nocturnal kiwis, yellow-eyed penguins and blue penguins.

“We’re going to do everything you can do in New Zealand,” said Marge Kitterman, director of Habitat’s RV Care-A-Vanners program. Kitterman and her husband, Bob, will lead the program’s first overseas trip. “We have a waiting list of people calling everyday to see if anyone has cancelled.”

The RV Care-A-Vanners program started in 1989 as a way for retired people and those who own recreational vehicles, campers or even tents to participate in Habitat building projects. Each year, the Care-A-Vanners spend weeks and even months traveling all over the United States, Canada and Mexico, building Habitat houses with people in need. This is the first time the RV Care-A-Vanners will take a volunteer house-building operation overseas.

“It keeps retired people from being couch potatoes,” said Bernie Ussery, who will travel, along with his wife, Audrey, from their home in Lompoc, Calif., to New Zealand. The couple, both in their mid-60s and retired from the aerospace industry, have been involved with the RV Care-A-Vanners program since 1998, when they helped to build on a Habitat neighborhood in Americus, Ga.

“The program attracts us because it’s a ‘helping’ program rather than a ‘giveaway’ program,” said Audrey Ussery. “We feel that it’s a way to help people rather than just giving people a handout. They seem to appreciate it more.”

The cost of the RV Care-A-Vanners first-ever global trip is $3,000 per person, including roundtrip airfare, RV rental, campground fees, several meals and attractions, as well as a donation to the Habitat office in New Zealand.

For more information on RV Care-A-Vanner trips, log on to www.habitat.org.

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in nearly 2,000 communities in 83 nations have built and sold more than 120,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.