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nvestysly 12-23-2011 07:50 AM

Habitat for Humanity RV Care-A-Vanners
Many people are familiar with Habitat for Humanity but they are not aware that you can participate in Habitat and have an RV experience at the same time.

RV Care-A-Vanners has been on our radar screen for several years. We've longed for the day when we could take two weeks and help build a house. We've always enjoyed the one-day builds (on multiple weekends) done through our church and employer. So a two-week stint sounded like good fun, fellowship and adventure.

Our first time with RV Care-A-Vanners was a recent build in Dade City, Florida (just northeast of Tampa). The two week experience was everything we hoped it would be. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the other RVers, meeting the local Habitat personnel, working on the house(s), meeting the new homeowner, etc.

Based on discussion with other first-timers and some who have Care-A-Vanned for a number of years, each build is different, but each is a wonderful experience. We liked it every bit as much as we hoped and have signed up for another and are tentatively planning on several more. They fill up fast so you have to watch the build list regularly so you can find locations that suit your destinations.

Click here for the build list

When we choose a location we look for volunteer camps with sewer hookups at the site. Some camps offer a dump location, some have a dump station off-site and some have a sewer hookup. We don't need to dump every day but we certainly cannot go two weeks without dumping. So be sure to look for that and be aware of your needs.

The volunteer camp sites will vary (sometimes dramatically) from one Habitat affiliate to another. The location in Dade City was several contiguous city lots that had been made into an RV area that would handle about 20 rigs parked closely together. We've been told some volunteer camps are in parking lots, some are in local campgrounds. It depends...

One fellow we worked with told us about a Beatitude that is not found in the Bible - blessed are the flexible for they shall not be permanently bent out of shape. This motto applies to working with Habitat in general and certainly applies to RV Care-A-Vanners. Approach your camping area and various work assignments with compromise and empathy and you'll be fine. You will likely not be staying in an RV resort and your work assignments may simply be picking up trash.

We've found Habitat allows each individual to work at their level of ability and desire. If you want to learn new skills at the job site there will be people around that will help. It's not an official training program by any means but people around you will help. There will be times when things are slow - ran out of materials, waiting for another group to finish, weather delays, and other problems. At that point just think about "blessed are the flexible...." and find another job - pick up nails, pick up trash, sweep the floor - whatever needs to be done.

Many Habitat affiliates also have other volunteer opportunities. Check with the location you are considering and see what's going on in the area. Some affiliates have a ReStore (second hand shop) that needs manpower, you may be able to help with homeowner training classes, you may be able to work in the office. There are volunteer possibilities other than swinging a hammer.

Keep track of your expenses. Items that can be attributed to the Habitat build are tax deductible. Check with an accountant but I suspect you can itemize your mileage to/from your home (or previous location), your meals (or at least some of them), your camp fee if there is one, and other related expenses.

In closing, we loved it and hope to help on many more builds. We're on a wait list for an upcoming build and we will be signing up for several more. I hope you enjoy your experience as much as we enjoyed our time.


dznf0g 12-23-2011 07:59 AM

Excellent, when the time comes for retirement, we have always wanted more of a purpose in our travels than just wandering around. I have done several Habitat builds with our church, and have always wondered if they would accommodate an RV lifestyle. They are a great organization.
Is there a website or repository of opportunities available for RVers?

cojer 12-23-2011 08:23 AM

this is really a fantastic idea!

dznf0g 12-23-2011 08:32 AM

How about an informal never ending Airforums Habitat caravan? People drop in and drop out as they can/will.

Lily&Me 12-23-2011 08:58 AM

This is a great idea, and thanks for posting about it.

We have given $ regularly to Habitat for many years. They will also come and pick up a used-but-in-good-condition stove, frig, washer/dryer, freezer, etc., for their store and families.

We would like to do a build, and have talked about this many times. We are just starting to get to that place in our retirement where our feelings about donating time don't automatically go to "we gave at the office". :shock:

Where doing personal recovery after a couple of decades with the State of Illinois :shifty: and its' child welfare system :blink: is starting to become "old business".

A sad but true fact in our lives. :cry:

I'd like to see this thread continue and be updated as to current goings-on.

We would like to help and contribute. There are undoubtedly many others here who feel the same.

Maggie :flowers:

nvestysly 12-23-2011 09:39 AM

Lots of good ideas here. I realize many Air Forums members are w*rking so a two week "vacation" is not realistic. However, for those who are able... the idea of Air Forums members participating in a Care-A-Van sounds like fun.

I'll start the informal caravan by saying we're signed up for the Thibodaux, LA build beginning February 19th. See the list of Care-A-Vans here:

RV Care-A-Vanners Program -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l

We're actually 1st on the wait list for Thibodaux. Even if a build is listed as Full you can apply for that build and put your name on the wait list. If you're one of the first few on the wait list you may be able to participate since people drop out for various reasons.

On a related note: what do you think about a Habitat weekend rally somewhere around the country? If there's interest we can start a separate rally thread. Danielle and I participated in a rally last year at this time. Another Air Forums couple and their daughter and son-in-law worked on a house in New Orleans. We had a good time and helped somebody in the process. Here's a link to the thread:


Lily&Me 12-23-2011 09:57 AM

A Habitat weekend rally sounds good to me.

I also like the idea of an ongoing caravan, that people can join or drop out of as they are able.


nvestysly 12-29-2011 04:49 PM

It's official - we've been moved from the wait-list for Thibodaux to the "real" list. We'll be building in Louisiana.

We'll be in Thibodaux for Mardis Gras so I think that will allow us to have some fun the weekend or two prior to the start of Lent. Maybe on the way to Thibodaux we'll stop in Mobile, AL to get a taste of the parades leading up to Mardis Gras.

Any ideas/suggestions - pass them on. On the fence about building a Habitat house? Get off your b*tt (I mean fence) and sign-up for a build in your area.

I'll continue to look for an opportunity for a Habitat Rally weekend.


Goal15 12-29-2011 06:34 PM

A great idea
This is a great idea to bring to this Forum.

While I agree that many of us here are still working and only have 2-3 weeks of vacation time, it is definitely something to look forward to upon retirement in a few years.

I've done Habitat builds with my employer in the past as well as some other volunteer times and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even applied for a job with Habitat when i was looking for the job I have now.

Let's keep this thread alive and hopefully it will encourage many here to offer their many and varies skills. The only downside I can see is that Hardee Board and rivets don't mix well lol but Im sure there's a bunch of people here who are a whiz with aluminum flashing work.


dznf0g 12-29-2011 06:41 PM

Definitely keep it alive. We, too, are still working, but are VERY interested. I also talked to my two Brothers-in-Law and their wives over Christmas and they were very excited to hear of this opportunity. (We have all camped together for many years).

nvestysly 12-30-2011 12:20 PM

Habitat is Interested
I've received a preliminary response from Habitat indicating an interest in a Habitat Rally. It's too early to know for certain if an event like this can be arranged but it's encouraging to know Habitat is interested.

A year ago Danielle and I attempted a Habitat Rally and it met with limited success. In retrospect, I think the time period I chose (after Christmas and including New Year) was not good.

Is there a particular time that is more suitable? Summer in the south/southeast is too hot. Spring and Fall are good but kids are in school. Spring break - but not everyone has a break at the same time. In the end, Habitat will likely define the time slot availability. Just want to know if there is a particular time that would not work for Air Forums members.

Lily&Me 12-30-2011 12:34 PM

I remember the Habitat rally scheduled for last year, over New Year's in NOLA, as I recall.

Not a good time for many, not for us who have family things over the holidays into January every year.

IMO, I think those who are most likely to be able to travel to do something like this are retirees and full-timers.

How would Habitat be involved in a rally, just the use of their name?


nvestysly 12-30-2011 03:43 PM

Rally vs. 2-Week Build
Habitat is open to considering the idea of a construction rally. A construction rally would likely be Friday & Saturday. So the rally participants would arrive on Thursday and depart on Sunday. We may be able to make provisions for participants to work Saturday only - we can work out those details later.

This would be very similar to the Habitat builds that occur all around the country. Most local Habitat builds occur over a period of 7 weeks. Each Saturday volunteers provide the manpower and Habitat provides the tools and construction supervisors. At the end of 7 weeks the house is finished and dedicated to the new homeowner. If we were to make a rally we would simply be supplying the manpower for one weekend of a "build."

I realize the idea of a rally is not what I mentioned in the original post. However, I understand that most AirForums members are not able to participate in a 2-week Habitat project. However, a weekend rally might be achievable.

The weekend format would still allow us to have pot-luck dinner and/or happy hour. The difference from a normal AirForums rally is the participants would be working on a Habitat house on Friday and/or Saturday.

This is only an idea at this point. I have to find a local Habitat office willing to work this into their schedule.


goshawks00 12-30-2011 04:31 PM

I think it's a noble and great idea... I've made several trips to NO after Katrina to clean and start a rebuild project through our local Vineyard church . It is a great way to share, and come away more blessed than those whom you helped. We will keep this on our radar and if we can get roadworthy this coming year I believe we will be in for a few weeks ,and weekends,
Thanks for bringing this up.
Barry & Karen in Mi.

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