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Part 4 – Journey of an Astro Van

Time for an update on Barbara and the Astro van! After waving goodbye to all of the volunteers at the HOWA van build in October 2021, Barbara began her journey as a nomad by visiting friends and boondocking in the forests of Arizona before heading to Quartzsite to attend the RTRs in Jan 2022. Originally Barbara had planned to volunteer at the RTRs but realized that she needed the information provided at the seminars and decided to hold off on volunteering until 2023 when she would be a seasoned nomad with a year of experience.

Barbara lived in Ecuador for eight years before returning to the US in July 2021. Without a vehicle or the funds to buy one, she thought a nomadic life wasn’t possible but receiving the Astro van has opened a whole world. Every morning she wakes up comfortable and happy in the little home that she’s altered to fit her needs which included buying a tent that serves as a storage area, sitting room, and kitchen. One of the surprise experiences for Barbara at the RTRs was the free pile where she found the exact items that she was missing. Thank you to everyone who donated their extra stuff to the free pile!

Part 1,  Part 2,  Part 3

If you are a nomad in need please visit the HOWA Programs page.

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Rachele, an RTRs Volunteer

Rachele, Saturday, and Andrea, a fellow volunteer

Like many first-time RTR attendees, Rachele discovered the RTRs while searching the internet for the solution to a problem – where to buy an inexpensive but reliable car for her younger son. What she found instead was a YouTube video on the Cheap RV Living channel featuring Suanne Carlson living in her Prius. The concept was new to Rachele but intriguing so she gave her car to her son and bought a 20+-year-old Toyota Sienna with a good motor and transmission. After getting work done on the car to make it safe and dependable, Rachele was ready for her first RTRs.

In Rachele’s own words:

“I came to the WRTR/RTR with no expectations except helping, in any way needed, the organization that had helped put the skip back in my step.


I set a goal for myself after my son’s (Rachele’s older son) last cancer treatment, to start living life now and stop waiting for tomorrow! Goal 1, after I got my van running was to volunteer for the fabulous organization that gave me the encouragement to start living again, not just surviving for tomorrow.


I arrived at the volunteer camp so nervous I parked a wash away as to not disturb anyone. I showed up my first morning nervous as hell not knowing a soul. Spent the days with amazing people, bonded together by the joy of building community.  I found myself quite emotional leaving with tears of joy because I felt as if I found my tribe!!!”

Thank you Rachele for volunteering and helping make life better for all of the attendees!

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The 2022 Online RTR

The 2021 online RTR was so popular that it was continued in 2022. Questions were answered in the chat during the classes so be sure to check the chat, and the comments below each video, for additional information. All online sessions are posted on the HOWA YouTube channel and can be watched at any time.

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2022 Rubber Tramp Rendezvous Jan 14-23

The return of the RTRs! After reviewing the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines and the rate of infections in the Quartzsite area, the staff and trustees of HOWA determined that the 2022 RTRs could be held safely. The RTRs are held completely outdoors which allows proper social distancing and lessens any chance of infection. All attendees were cautioned to follow CDC guidelines.

The venue for the 2020 RTRs, La Paz Fairgrounds, was excellent but the lack of close dispersed camping meant long drives for people who wanted to attend the seminars. For the 2022 RTRs Suanne Carlson, HOWA’s Executive Director, persuaded the Quartzsite officials to rent the town park to HOWA. The location of the park in the center of the town surrounded by BLM land within easy driving, biking, and even walking distance meant many more people could attend the seminars. Over the ten days of the RTRs hundreds of people gathered on the grass of the baseball field to listen to seminars on solar power, work camping, safety, vehicle maintenance and other subjects of interest to new and experienced nomads.

 Popular features such as the button table, the bulletin boards, the free tables, and the plywood van were joined by “Flat Bob”and a crafts area located at the first aid station plus an opportunity to buy sweepstakes tickets and win Bob’s van . A generous donor supplied funds to buy warm blankets, hats, and socks to be distributed to any attendee who couldn’t afford to buy them. On the final two days of the RTR attendees were invited to show off their vehicles at an open house event. Wonderful entertainment was provided by the Status Crowes  and the Gong Gypsy.

None of this would have been possible without the help of the HOWA volunteers. Due to the hard work and cooperation of many people the RTRs were a huge success. Any concern that the Quartzsite officials had about renting the park for the event vanished when they saw how professionally the volunteers handled their duties and how much support the attendees gave and received over the ten days of the RTRs. HOWA has been invited to come back next year! Thank you volunteers and attendees! Hope to see all of you at the Quartzsite town park for the 2023 RTRs!

 

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Emergency Repairs

As of December 2021 the HOWA Emergency Fund has distributed over $44,000 to 112 nomads! Thank you to all who donated and helped make this program so successful! To keep the Emergency Fund going please donate HERE.

Here is an example of how your donations help fellow nomads:

Dear HOWA core group, contributors and members.
Some of you know me, my first official year out. I started in a high milage car knowing none. I had come to see how these people live on minimal incomes. I live on $500. per month and needed to know how to make it. I quickly made friends with others once linked up with the Women’s Carovan and on to my first WRTR and RTR! What a winter! I met so many beautiful people and had fun! My health had gotten so poor so suddenly that I’d given up on life, never mind actually having fun!I’ve been coming back to life (after 2 years in bed) these last couple years. I’m getting stronger in every way! I LOVE the freedom this lifestyle has to offer! I can do as I need, when I need and take part at my pace. More and more I am increasingly healthier! I even put a little money aside and bought a van. Then, tiny step by tiny step I am building out my van. Unfortunately, I have also had a series of functional/mechanical issues I’ve had to fix recently. I’ve really hit a low and revisiting if I can make it or not and cold weather right around the corner. Then you all said you would help me with my latest mechanical issue …. the engine issue… the one that made me think I couldn’t make it! Because of your foresight and kind hearts creating such an organization and making funds available to people like me I feel like someone actually does care about me! It’s a huge boost!!!! I got the job I had wanted because I have transportation. My physical limitations are many so I hated to see this “perfect match” go away. Because of your prompt help with my transportation, I am now working and stretching my abilities even further.
Thank you for ALL you do for so many of us out here doing the best we can to rebuild our lives!!!! You provide an invaluable service that stretches far beyond money. Thank you for finding ME worthy of help!”

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We Care Pahrump, Nevada November 2021

  In January 2021 HOWA was the recipient of a $3,000 Community Grant from Walmart. Thank you Walmart! In keeping with the requirements that the grant money be distributed to nomads in need in the Pahrump area, a We Care event was held in the spring of 2021. $1000 was distributed leaving a $2000 surplus for another event in the fall of the year. Since this coincideded with the start of the fall caravans the event became mobile and event volunteers traveled to five caravan locations and distributed 52 $100 grants. In all $5,200 was distributed – the $2000 plus $3,200 from generous donors. Thank you donors!

A few of the grateful recipients.

all photos by Bobbie Stice

A huge thank you to the HOWA stuff and volunteers, Phyllis, Grey, Christy, Lisa, Suanne, and Bobbie

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