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A New Home for Bunny and her Cats

All photos by Bunny La Grand

When Bunny La Grand could no longer afford the rental she had in Portland, Oregon, she moved herself and her three cats into a 4-person tent and hit the road in her minivan, despite the challenges. She has arthritis and needs both knees replaced, which can make setting up and tearing down a tent difficult. But the pandemic hit Bunny hard, and without savings, she knew she needed to reduce her cost of living.

Unfortunately, her original tent wasn’t well-suited to be a full-time home. Her minivan stores her belongings and her livelihood—clothing she sells online and at flea markets—so a tent represents home to Bunny and her cats: privacy, warmth, and safety. Unfortunately, her original tent wasn’t durable enough to handle Quartzsite’s desert winds and sustained damage in a windstorm. She was also afraid to use her propane heater, even when the temperature dipped into the 40s overnight, because the roof was too low. 

So when Bunny heard from a fellow nomad that HOWA provides loaner tents, she was filled with hope. “Having a good tent is crucial to my and my cats’ well-being,” she wrote. “We need a good tent to protect us from the elements, and also wildlife.”

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HOWA provided Bunny with a used 8-person tent donated by one of our generous supporters, and Bunny felt the difference right away. “It is such an upgrade and a blessing for me and my three cats,” she told us. “It’s like a small studio! My heart is bursting with gratitude that someone cared enough to donate this tent and that HOWA was able to assist us.”

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Then, the zipper on the donated tent broke, allowing one of her cats to escape into the desert night. She used safety pins and duct tape as a temporary means of sealing the door—and a laser pointer to reclaim her escaped kitty. For a second time, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able to send Bunny a new tent with a working zipper. She now has a fully functional 4-person tent, and has passed the original donation along to another houseless friend in need. This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is blgc-768x1024.jpg

Bunny’s ceaseless optimism and gratitude in the face of challenge remind us that there is beauty even in the challenging moments of our lives. When high winds kicked up and threatened to tear the walls of her new home, Bunny wrote, “There was a beautiful full moon.”

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A sincere and heartfelt thanks to the generous supporters who make stories like Bunny’s possible. If you have the means to help nomads in need, please consider donating here

Post written by Sarah Kuiken

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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 the HOWA staff decided to offer online classes in 2022 for everyone who could not attend the in-person RTRs. 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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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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