Staff Changes at HOWA

A message from Suanne about transitions within HOWA’s staff

Hi Everyone,

I want to share with you about the many changes within the HOWA organization and staff. HOWA always wants to be transparent with our community.

As you already know, J.D. McCrary is the Executive Director as of last February when I stepped down from that role. That change in leadership is big, but staff changes don’t stop there.

About 4 weeks ago Jessica resigned. She was HOWA’s Administrative Assistant who also posted to social media. Her service with HOWA was outstanding and she is dearly missed. But, her absence leaves a big hole in some critical tasks that keep HOWA healthy.

Furthermore, for more than a year, HOWA’s expenses for organizational operations, like staff’s wages, have exceeded incoming donations. Without additional funding, layoffs were inevitable. The Board of Trustees discussed this possibility last year when developing the 2024 Budget. Unfortunately, the trend of operational costs exceeding contributions has continued. HOWA is now at the point of needing to make the hard decision to layoff and restructure staff responsibilities so that we can continue to serve the community. Here are the staff changes that will take place in the next month to keep HOWA solvent.

  • No new hire to replace Jessica’s full-time position as Administrative Assistant and social media support.
    • Suanne, yours truly, will make social media posts as a volunteer.
    • Tracey will continue to work part-time doing administrative work instead of Emergency Fund coordination.
  • Bobbi, Client Services Manager, will run the Emergency Fund Program, as well as the Caravans, both In-Person and Virtual. She will continue to manage the BYOV program and past vehicle grantees.
    • Lisa, our current part-time Virtual Caravan Coordinator, will be laid off in about a month.


Sadly, this Spring we see Jessica and Lisa leave our staff. Both have huge hearts for serving the nomad community. I look forward to seeing them again down the road, around a campfire, or when we come together to volunteer for HOWA.

What stays the same at HOWA:

  • J.D. provides stable and innovative leadership as HOWA’s Executive Director, keeping HOWA solvent, building a strong organization, while continuing to provide mission-specific services to the nomadic community.

  • The Board of Trustees, including Co-Founders Bob Wells and myself, continue to carry fiduciary responsibly, set general direction, and create policies for HOWA to succeed as a 501(c)3 charity.

  • Phyllis, the Assistant Director, as an original staff member works to carry on the mission while providing a historical perspective. She makes sure the bills are paid and completes the many tasks to keep HOWA compliant as a 501(c)3.

  • Marieke, HOWA’s Tech Support private contractor, provides back-end support for HOWA’s services with great expertise in technologies and project management.

  • January’s Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, both the All-Gender and Women’s, will be led again by volunteers JP Smith and myself, along with Marieke’s leadership in project management, sustained by a dedicated team of Lead Volunteers.


Although the idea to reduce staff in order to remain solvent originated with me in 2023 when I was the Executive Director, J.D. also believes this step is necessary and has taken on the unenviable task to make it happen. This is hard stuff; I appreciate that he is doing this difficult work to keep HOWA going.

Lots of changes for HOWA, but the service programs currently remain intact even with this current reduction in donations and staff.

Through all of HOWA’s ups and downs, thank you for your continued support as a participant, volunteer, and donor. If you would like to contribute toward the rising operational costs of running this organization, please consider an on-going contribution at Likewise, J.D., the Trustees, and staff are also working to attract additional donors, grants, and sponsorships.

Most Sincerely Yours,

Suanne Carlson
Homes On Wheels Alliance, Inc.

Together we are changing lives, building supportive community, and preventing homelessness one person at a time.

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J.D. McCrary, HOWA’s New Executive Director

Dear HOWA Community,
I am thrilled to announce that as of February 1st, J.D. McCrary has officially joined Homes On Wheels Alliance as our new Executive Director. J.D. brings a wealth of experience and a heartfelt commitment to serve displaced individuals and care for the land, making him an excellent fit for our organization.
Hailing from Georgia, J.D. has wasted no time immersing himself in HOWA. After flying west, he rented a U-Haul van and is currently here in the desert southwest, soaking up the sunshine alongside our dedicated staff. Over the next few days, J.D. will be spending valuable in-person time with us, getting to know the ins and outs of HOWA and the incredible team that drives our mission.
In the coming weeks, we will share more about J.D.’s background as a non-profit leader. I am confident he will lead HOWA into a successful future serving the nomadic community.
As the outgoing Executive Director, I want to express my full confidence in J.D. and the positive impact he will undoubtedly have on our organization. I am excited to witness the continued growth and success of HOWA under his capable leadership.
Thank you for your ongoing support, and please join me in welcoming J.D. McCrary to the HOWA family!
Suanne Carlson
Outgoing Executive Director
Homes On Wheels Alliance, Inc.
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HOWA Continues to Serve Despite Inflation

Letter from the Executive Director
Last week HOWA’s Board met to finalize our 2023 budget. The Trustees and I wrestled with the impact of inflation on the growing costs to do HOWA’s work. In addition, we observed that contributions are down as our donors adapt to their own higher costs of living. In response, HOWA is making some changes, and reaching out to you with a special request.
First, I’d like you to know two of HOWA’s important commitments as we ride out this lean time —
  1. HOWA will remain fiscally responsible by not spending more than we have, and
  2. HOWA will continue the work to fulfill our mission to help those on the edge of homelessness within a supportive community.
Measures being implemented in 2023.  HOWA will —
Examples of some of those measures being implemented for the 2023 BYOV Program —
  • Corporate donor, Lectric eBikes, is sponsoring the BYOV Program for $20,000. Thank you!
  • The number of Spring BYOV projects is reduced to 24 to fit within that budget.
  • The Assistant for the Spring BYOV has been converted from a seasonal paid position to a volunteer position with less hours.
I am committed to standing with HOWA though this financially sparse time. Please join me in that commitment as demand for HOWA’s services will certainly become even greater.
Ways you can donate today —
Together we are changing lives, building supportive community, and preventing homelessness one person at a time.
Thank you for your consideration and support.
Suanne Carlson
Executive Director
Homes On Wheels Alliance, Inc.
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HOWA Vehicles

Vehicles of HOWA’s Build Program

Between Summer 2019 and Fall 2021, HOWA has purchased or has been gifted 16 vehicles.  Eighteen people, on the edge of homelessness, have been granted vehicles as their homes on wheels.  Each vehicle was selected to provide a safe and secure home for its new owner(s).  Some of these vehicles have had a series of events happen with them; while others simply went to their new homeowner and are completing their charge by providing dependable shelter.  Here is a listing of those granted vehicles in the order of purchase or donation.

  1. Minivan One

    Minivan One:  Funds for purchase were donated by an anonymous donor.  Awarded August 2019 to Recipient 1, then returned to HOWA in September 2021.  The nomadic life wasn’t a good fit for her.  While the minivan was being transported to Pahrump in September 2021, to be granted to another person in need, it was in an accident with a deer.  HOWA had full coverage on it with a $1000 deductible.  The minivan is totaled, the volunteer transporter was not injured.  HOWA is still waiting to hear from the insurance adjuster.  All funds received for this vehicle will go back into the Build Program.
  2. Travel Trailer:  Trailer donated by anonymous donors.  Awarded October 2019 to Recipients 2 and 3.  Remains the home on wheels for a nomad couple.
  3. Minivan Two:  Vehicle donated by an anonymous donor.  Awarded October 2019 to Recipient 4.  The Recipient fulfilled the escrow savings agreement within six months, sold the awarded minivan, and replaced it with a different vehicle in 2020.  For clarity of expectations for these grants, recipients are now required to live out of their awarded vehicles for at least 3 years before they can sell it.
  4. Cargo Trailer:  Trailer purchased with contributions from many donors.  Awarded October 2019 to Recipients 5 and 6.  Converted by volunteers into a home for mother and son.  The trailer remains their home on wheels.
  5. Minivan Three:  Vehicle purchased with contributions from many donors.  It was ready to be awarded October 2019.  Unfortunately, the selected client’s mobility was such that she couldn’t safely get in and out of the minivan.  As a result, the minivan was saved to be re-granted in Spring 2020.  Sadly, it was totaled in a roll-over accident to avoid a head-on collision in the Winter of 2020.  No fatalities.  Vehicle did not have full insurance coverage; but was sold for scrap with those funds paying for its storage fees.
  6. School Bus “Hannah”:  Donated by the family of David Ainley, HOWA Trustee, after his passing.  Converted by David.  Awarded October 2019 to Recipient 7, a retired mechanic with the skills and ability to maintain it.  It is still his home on wheels.
  7. Minivan Four:  Funds for purchase were donated by Lectrice Bikes. In July 2020, this minivan wasn’t a good fit

    Minivan Four

     for the client due to her multiple chemical sensitives (MCS).  So, instead it was awarded in August 2020 to Recipient 8.  Sadly, that recipient passed away in early 2021.  The minivan was returned and awarded again in April 2021 to Recipient 14.  It was totaled in an accident with a deer in May 2021, no injuries to the recipient.  That recipient moved into an RV. 
  8. Minivan Five:  Funds for purchase were provided by an anonymous donor.  This minivan was the previous home of a nomad with MCS.  Unfortunately, it still triggered MCS symptoms in the client, like Minivan Four.  So, instead, this minivan was awarded in October 2020 to Recipient 9; it remains her home on wheels.
  9. Truck with Cap:  Truck was purchased utilizing contributions from many donors for the client with MCS who could not use either Minivans Four or Five.  It had no carpeting and initially seemed to work for her.  But, sadly, she found that it triggered her MCS symptoms.  The truck was subsequently sold and funds from the sale reimbursed to the Build Program.  Sadly, HOWA was not able to source a vehicle, within our means, that would not trigger this client’s MCS symptoms.
  10. Minivan Six:  This vehicle was donated, built out, and transported by the Arcuses and friend.  Awarded
    October 2020 to Recipient 10.  That recipient exited the program to move into a larger van in the Summer of 2021.  The minivan was returned, inspected and readied for Recipient 17 in October 2021.

    Minivan Five

  11. Minivan Seven:  Funds for purchase were donated by Lectric eBikes.  Awarded October 2020 to Recipient 11.  It remains the recipient’s home on wheels.
  12. Minivan Eight:  Funds for purchase were contributed by an anonymous donor.  Awarded October 2020 to Recipient 12.  Remains the recipient’s home on wheels. 
  13. Minivan Nine: Funds for purchase were donated by Nomadland Productions.  Awarded April 2021 to Recipient 13.  Remains the recipient’s home on wheels.
  14. Minivan Ten:  Funds for purchased were donated by Nomadland Productions.    Awarded April 2021 to Recipient 15 and remains the recipient’s home on wheels.
  15. Minivan Eleven:  Funds for purchase were donated by an anonymous donor.  Shelving & bed platform were donated by Camp N Car.  Awarded April 2021 to Recipient 16.  Remains the recipient’s home on wheels. 
  16. Minivan Twelve Donated, repaired, and transported by the Brownes, with a hightop donated by Fiberine, and Solar Kitchen donated by Go Sun.  Will be awarded October 2021 to Recipient 18.

Minivan Ten

TIMELINE of Service for HOWA’s Granted Vehicles

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The First WRTRs!

During the 2014 RTR Suanne Carlson led two sessions for women only. Due to the popularity of these sessions they were continued during the next three RTRs but many women requested more time to connect and explore issues important to them so in 2018 the first WRTR was held for three days after the RTR. The format for the WRTR is slightly different from the RTR focusing on interaction and mentoring with breakout sessions after the seminars. Between 100 to 200 hundred women attended the WRTR and based on their feedback the 2019 WRTR was scheduled before the RTR so that new attendees could meet other women and then feel more comfortable attending the much larger RTR.

As news of the camaraderie, fun, and learning experiences women found at the 2018 WRTR spread across the nomadic community, the WRTR planning committee projected that between 800 and 1,000 women would attend the 2019 WRTR . . . and that became the reality! Each day, women pulled into the WRTR entrance glowing with achievement that they had overcome hurdles, obstacles, setbacks, fears and anxiety to travel, for some, thousands of miles alone for the first time in their lives. They were greeted at the entrance by other women who had volunteered to help set up the event, greet participants, manage the sound system, and provide information and assistance where it was needed. These volunteers arrived at the WRTR site three days early to receive training and do all the tasks involved in setting up the event. Thousands of people learned about the origin and mission of this newly formed nonprofit organization during the WRTR and RTR. Homes On Wheels Alliance Trustees and other dedicated volunteers manned the booth eight hours a day for two weeks to spread the word and take donations

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Scouting for the Caravans

By Suanne Carlson, Executive Director
This week I’ve been scouting for camp locations for the Caravans.  Caravans are groups of people who camp together for up to 3 months.  I’ve searched in Southern Oregon, west to east, along Hwy 140 from Klammath Falls to beyond Adel into the Oregon Outback. What a challenge. And what a joy to see such diversity in our public lands — from forests, to grasslands, sagebrush and junipers. The wildflowers in the high country are spectacular — reds, oranges, yellows, blues, violets, and whites, all displayed on endless shades of green. Also today I was lucky enough to spy several birds of prey, including a bald eagle. But, my funniest animal encounter happened with a little hitchhiker.
Image may contain: cloud, sky, tree, outdoor and nature
Last night I camped in a National Forest of tall pine, fir, cedar, ferns, and Oregon grape. Just as I was falling asleep I heard rustlings in my engine compartment — a little varmint I surmised. But, by the time the sun rose, all was quiet and I soon forgot about that incursion.
Image may contain: tree, sky, plant, grass, outdoor and nature
So, first thing this morning I headed to the flat lands of scrub, sage and junipers further east. I wanted to search some BLM land for dispersed camp areas — free, with cell service, close to town, and able to accommodate a small group. Once in the outback, I headed down a dirt road that soon became a bone-jarring obstacle course of rocks and ruts. After a bit, I stopped to turn around and look elsewhere. But, before I got it in reverse, out pops a chipmunk from under my hood, both paws on my windshield in front of my face, as if to say, “Hey there! Where do you think you’re going? This ain’t my home!”
Well, it is now.
I popped open my hood and sprayed Simple Green along the firewall. I’ve been told it deters mice … it also seems to deter chipmunks because he’s gone now.
Perhaps the little guy will travel the quarter mile down to the little town by the lake to find others of his kind.
No photo description available.
To learn about the Caravans —
To RSVP to join a Caravan —
On July 1, 2019, the Caravans will move from CheapRVLiving to Homes On Wheels Alliance.
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