2024 Desert Clean-Up

Since the first clean-up in early 2022, desert clean-ups have become a recurring event as circumstances permit. They’re held in the spring and fall when nomads gather to enjoy the mild temperatures in Pahrump, Nevada . The spring clean-up in 2024 coincided with the closing of the spring Caravan season which allowed some of the caravan participants to join in the clean-up. Working together for just 4 four hours 30 volunteers almost filled a 40 yard dumpster supplied by the BLM!

As ardent supporters of the Leave No Trace program, HOWA follows and promotes their seven principles:

  • Plan Ahead & Prepare
  • Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors
  • Respect Wildlife
 Please help us keep the places where we love to camp clean and safe for future visitors by following these simple principles. You can also help by picking up trash left by other visitors and disposing of it in a local landfill. To inquire about holding your own public land clean-up contact a BLM office.


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Homes on Wheels Alliance April 2024 Newsletter

From the Director

On May 1, 2024, it will be three months since I assumed my new role as Executive Director of Homes on Wheels Alliance (HOWA) and the awesome responsibility to support this caring and compassionate community. I am thrilled to report that the foundation of this wonderful community organization is healthy and thriving thanks in no small part to the staff, board, and you – members of the HOWA community. I have a professional history of full-time travel, nonprofit management, and human services delivery to displaced persons, making me uniquely suitable for this role but what drew me to this organization is the powerful community you built to support one another.

You may notice some changes to the organization as we move forward with HOWA positioning itself for future growth and establishing the policies needed to serve more nomads and ensure compliance with donors. Internally, we are looking at updating the organizational structure to make HOWA more effective and efficient, modernizing our financial reporting and controls, strengthening support for our staff and creating the most generous policies for remote and flexible work in our industry, updating our website, and revisiting programs such as the eFund to prioritize transparency and access for those in need.

Thank you for the opportunity to join you as we pursue our mission of changing lives together to build a supportive community and prevent homelessness one person at a time. I look forward to meeting each of you soon.

J.D. McCrary

Please Give Generously

HOWA only exists through the support of donors like you. What the organization has accomplished over the past five years is astonishing, considering our limited budget. Did you know that the great majority of HOWA’s budget is funded by individual members of our community? While we are strategically researching additional funding sources, HOWA will always be primarily a community donor-based organization. By supporting HOWA, you can be part of creating a future where everyone, regardless of their circumstances, can find stability, resilience, and a sense of community. Your generosity is a catalyst for transformation. Please make a much-needed donation today.

Once you are on our donation page, please consider becoming a monthly recurring donor. While we are eternally grateful for all support, a recurring monthly donation allows HOWA to budget for smoother operations and avoid the fluctuations stemming from month-to-month fundraising. Additionally, please see our full list of opportunities to support the HOWA mission and your fellow travelers.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support this powerful organization.

Save the Date

Our annual gathering, the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR), is a time for us to gather as a community, share our collective knowledge, build relationships, and learn new skills. The next RTR will be the 6th time we have come together, and all are invited to join us again in Quartzsite, AZ at the town park baseball field. As in the past, the event will be held in two phases. The Women’s RTR (WRTR) will convene on Wednesday, January 8, 2025, and conclude on Friday, January 10. The All Gender RTR (AGRTR) begins on Saturday, January 11, 2025, and closes on Thursday, January 16.

Stay tuned for additional information on volunteering, camping, sponsoring, and attending throughout the coming months. As always, the event is free and open to everyone who supports the HOWA mission. Please join us.

HOWA Program Updates

For those of you who have been part of the HOWA community for the past few years, you know that our signature programs, such as vehicle distributions to those in need and Bring Your Own Vehicle (BYOV) events, have been temporarily suspended due to rising insurance costs. HOWA remains insured, but unfortunately, our current policy limits our available programming and even some locations where we can provide services to the community. HOWA is actively seeking a new (affordable) policy, and we hope to resume our full spectrum of programming soon. More to come, and if you are an insurance broker or someone interested in financially supporting our insurance payments through a major gift, please let us know.

Thankfully, some of our other programs are active and doing great work.

Thanks to caravan leader Phyllis, an in-person caravan gathered earlier this month near Pahrump, NV, with over two dozen vehicles participating. Until recently, we have been limited in developing formal caravans due to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requirements, but as our partnership with BLM develops, we are planning to gather in person more often. Stay tuned for our next caravan in October in Pahrump.

On Friday, April 12, the in-person caravan and others in the community led a cleanup in the Pahrump area. Thank you to BLM for providing the dumpster, and thank you to everyone in the HOWA community who participated in this important service project. Taking care of our public lands and ensuring access for all visitors is an important part of HOWA’s mission.

Developed during COVID, the Virtual Caravan program remains strong and welcomes dozens during each Zoom session. All are welcome to participate, and you can find a time and gender-appropriate meeting that best suits you. Sign up for alerts on HOWA’s Meetup page to ensure you do not miss an opportunity to connect with fellow nomads (or nomad curious). No matter where your travels may take you, there is no reason not to bring the HOWA community with you.

We recently had two distribution events. In March, we provided four full solar power setups, and in April, we distributed four 100 AH lithium batteries to members of the nomad community most in need. Notifications for future distribution events and the requirements to apply will be posted on our Facebook page.

Finally, since the 2024 RTR concluded, we have distributed a tent ($600+) (Thank you, Springbar) to a couple who needed the extra space after their van was totaled from getting rear-ended and just shy of $10,000 (Thank you HOWA community donors) in direct financial support to dozens of nomads facing unanticipated emergencies.

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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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2024 Rubber Tramp Rendezvous!

The first day of the WRTR  was cold and windy but that did not deter the intrepid women who gathered at the Quartzsite Town Park to attend the seminars on nomad safety, hygiene, and off road travel. A generous donation from Columbia Sportswear and an anonymous donor allowed us to distribute puffer and fleece jackets plus hats, gloves, and warm socks to grateful attendees who could not afford to purchase them on their own.


The next day the sun came out and the weather for the rest of the WRTR and RTR was beautiful. Attendees enjoyed interesting seminars; live music; making new friends; meeting Bob, trustees, and staff; viewing open homes; making crafts; and playing games. Food was available at the food carts, the free pile yielded good finds, and a group of volunteers with sewing machines made 100s of repairs. 





There was plenty of room on the ball field even on the days of the most popular seminars when attendance hit 500 people.  Social distancing space was still available for those who wanted or needed it.

Thank you to our supporters and donors! We are very grateful to Columbia for the donated winter gear and Marie Griggs Krause for the quilt donation.  We teamed with Escapees this year and they offered a free membership as a door prize.

A special thank you to the volunteers who show up every year to help make these important events possible! You can help too.  Please Donate!


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Empowering Nomads One Solar System at a Time: HOWA’s Winter 2024 BYOV

On Thursday, February 1, a group of HOWA volunteers and BYOV solar system recipients gathered at the historic Gold Rock Ranch RV Park in Winterhaven, CA, for HOWA’s Winter 2024 BYOV (Bring Your Own Vehicle) event.

Each BYOV is a perfect example of the heart of HOWA’s mission to change lives, build a supportive community, and prevent homelessness, and this winter was no exception. Thanks to the generous support of Lectric eBikes, seventeen deserving nomads received the keys to a more sustainable and empowered life on the road.

The gift of power: more than just energy

Each of the twelve recipients received a 200W solar system, a comprehensive package including solar panels, a lithium battery, solar charge controller, wiring, fuses, and all the other essentials for a safe, standalone power system. 


But this event provided more than electric power. Nearly every recipient in attendance talked about freedom and self-sufficiency as the most life-changing gift they were receiving. 

Many have been forced to buy ice every few days to keep their food or medications cold. Others have had to deal with dead phones, CPAP machines, and other devices meant to keep them safe and connected to friends and family while on the road. 

These solar systems will empower recipients to meet the basic needs that so many take for granted: the ability to safely store food, charge devices, take medication, and seek the community support we all need.

Stories from the road: the impact of solar

This year’s recipients ranged in age from mid-twenties to mid-seventies, with home states spanning from coast to coast. Some are making the best life they can imagine for themselves on a limited budget. Others have chosen nomadic life as an alternative to high-crime neighborhoods back home. 


Until now, Havoc has relied on a small solar panel to keep her phone charged, leaving her out of touch on cloudy days. She’s looking forward to spending more time in nature now that she won’t have to stay so close to town for basic services and to buy ice.

The ability to get further into nature is especially important to Aimee, an introvert who has found that five years on the road without a fridge has taken its toll. “This power system means that I won’t have to worry. Emotionally, physically … It’s going to improve everything,” she said through tears.

For Andi, who has food-related health issues, the inability to properly refrigerate her food had medical implications. Michele and Liz also talked about how hard it is to cook and eat healthy food when you can’t safely store it—a worry they’re thrilled to leave behind them.


Other nomads mentioned other quality-of-life changes they’re grateful for, too. “This means everything to me,” said Belinda, who will be able to power a 12-volt fridge and run a fan in the summer to keep herself and her dogs cool.

Learning and connection

The winter BYOV event kicked off with informative sessions led by knowledgeable volunteers, educating recipients about the safety, capabilities, and maintenance of their new solar power systems. Afterward, volunteers and recipients gathered under HOWA’s canopies to stay dry in the rain and share a pizza lunch, fostering a sense of community and gratitude among grantees, volunteers, and staff.

The nomadic lifestyle can be isolating at times. At BYOV and other HOWA events like Caravans, nomads can find a sense of belonging and mutual support. This BYOV event was a vivid demonstration of what is possible when people come together to support each other.

Why BYOV makes a difference

  • Empowerment: From charging cell phones to powering CPAP machines, solar-powered electrical systems offer nomads a much-needed lifeline.
  • Freedom: Without dependency on coolers, our friends can store their food safely and stay at dry camping spots longer, reducing their spending on fuel and ice.
  • Community: Every BYOV creates a sense of belonging and support among nomads, forming a vibrant community united by shared experiences and helping hands.

How you can help

HOWA provides nomads with:

  • Basic goods and supplies to help make vehicles into functional, safe, and secure dwellings
  • Transition assistance into a financially and environmentally sustainable mobile lifestyle
  • Events and gatherings to connect with the nomadic community
  • Opportunities to give back and improve the lives of other nomads, area communities, and our public lands

Our journey of empowering nomads is far from over, and the support of the community remains as vital as ever

To those moved by the stories of transformation and community at the BYOV event, we invite you to join us. Whether through donations, volunteering, or simply sharing our mission, your support makes a difference. Together, we can continue to change lives and protect the confidence, self-sufficiency, and dignity of those we serve.

Click here to donate

Click here for volunteer opportunities

Post written by Sarah Kuiken

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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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