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Part 2 – Journey of an Astro Van

The Astro gets a hightop!

After a thorough inspection by Silver Star Auto, the Astro van, rolling smoothly on new tires, was ready for the next step – the installation of a hightop by Fiberene! Once again the donors, Richard and Amy, graciously offered to deliver the van and pick it up when the job was finished.

Fiberene generously donated the hightop and the labor which was completed by Gonzalo Rico. Installing a hightop is an exacting process that involves cutting and removing the roof of the van, and properly sealing between the van roof and the hightop to prevent leaks.

On the drive back to their house Richard and Amy discovered that the repairs on the air conditioner done by Silver Star Auto had not solved the problem. Back at the shop, Silver Star Auto diagnosed a bad compressor which would cost $1,300 to replace. Neither Richard and Amy or HOWA could afford to pay that much. Not to be deterred, Richard contacted Anderson Auto Group, the owner of Silver Star Auto, and explained the situation.  Anderson offered to do the work free of charge!

Fixed and ready to be delivered to HOWA at Pahrump, Nevada!

Thanks you Richard and Amy, Gonzalo Rico of Fiberene, Chance Corbitt General Manger of Silver Star Auto, and Anderson Auto Group for your generosity!

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Part 1 – Journey of an Astro Van

A wonderful donation has come to Homes on Wheels Alliance in the form of a 1999 Chevy Astro van! Astro vans are very reliable mechanically, have good ground clearance, and a surprising amount of interior space for a vehicle that’s under 16 feet in total length.

The Astro was donated by Richard and Amy after Amy purchased another vehicle and no longer needed the van. But they didn’t stop at donating the van. They took the van to Silver Star Auto for a pre-purchase mechanical inspection and also had the air conditioning repaired. Next, they bought new tires! Richard and Amy have really gone above and beyond to make sure that their donation is in good working condition for a deserving recipient.

Applications for the Astro, which will be awarded in September 2021, can be found HERE. All applications are carefully reviewed by the HOWA staff. The chosen recipient will spend two weeks in Pahrump, Nevada camping with the HOWA staff and an experienced nomad volunteer mentor. We are excited about awarding this van to a nomad!

Watch for Part 2 – The Astro Gets a Hightop!

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April 2021 Minivan Recipients

After carefully considering all of the applicants for the minivans, four recipients were chosen by the HOWA staff. Each recipient was responsible for providing their own transportation to Pahrump, Nevada where they joined a small group of HOWA staff and volunteers. Two recipients came for the first two weeks in April and two more for the second two weeks. Recipients and volunteers camped together on BLM land during this mentoring period which also gave the recipients a chance to experiment with the best arrangement for their furnishings and belongings.  Since coronavirus was still a concern three builds used ready-made furnishings, a 100W foldable solar panel, and a portable power station. The fourth minivan had a Camp N Car’s prototype bed and shelving kit installed. Camp N Car is a new HOWA sponsor and has committed to donating a kit to HOWA for every 10 they sell.

  Meet the new minivan recipients!

Richard

Richard has been a vehicle dweller for 24 years, spending the spring and summer in Washington state and the fall and winter in Tuscon, Arizona, and Florida. He camps on the property of family and friends, helping out with chores and house sitting. While traveling to Florida, he became stuck in traffic on the interstate in Texas during the winter storms of February 2021 and the transmission in his van failed. With his van inoperable he rented a room in a motel to assess his options. A chance encounter with a fellow nomad staying at the same motel led to a conversation about HOWA and the minivan program. Richard applied and was accepted – HOWA’s first male minivan recipient! Most of the applicants to the program are female due to the large population of women who have not been able to build up a retirement fund and receive a low monthly Social Security check so we are pleased that Richard applied and was accepted.

KayT

When the apartment building where KayT rented was sold, she was left homeless and without a vehicle. She borrowed a car from her mother and found a small cargo trailer. A church gave her permission to park the trailer in their lot. KayT spent the winter in the lot, grateful for the place to stay and for the use of electricity to power a space heater and a small refrigerator. But this was a dull and colorless existence for KayT who is an avid camper and nature lover so she eagerly waited for the minivan applications to open in Feb. 2021. After being accepted as a minivan recipient and completing her two-week mentoring program KayT hit the road in her newly outfitted 2006 Chrysler Town & Country minivan.

Roxy

Roxy had been living with her daughter in her mobile home in South Carolina when she decided that she wanted to be on her own but at the age of 55 and disabled, she was struggling financially. Vandwelling seemed like a good option so she wrote to Bob Wells of Cheap RV Living for advice on buying a van. Bob encouraged Roxy to save the money that would be used for a van and apply for a minivan instead. Roxy’s new mini home is a 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan that came with orange flames on the sides which she decided to keep. The interior was provided by Camp N Car. The Camp N Car Kit needed a few modifications to fit into the Grand Caravan. The work was done by staff and volunteers along with Steve from Camp N Car. A Homes On Wheels Kit will be donated to HOWA for every ten that Camp N Car sells. Thank you Camp N Car!

Marla

Marla couldn’t make ends meet with her social security disability funds. Her rent and utilities took up too much of her income so, at 49, she applied for a minivan. A little home on wheels would satisfy her desire to travel and also allow her to stretch her funds. Marla is an experienced camper but not technology inclined so she found the information that her mentor shared with her very helpful. Marla’s minivan is a 2006 Honda Odyssey with 101,000 miles, previously awarded this past summer to Esther. Sadly, Esther passed away in March, and as outlined in the application process, the minivan was returned to HOWA.

Thanks to all of the staff and volunteers who came together in Pahrump for four weeks to make the minivan no-builds a success! Applications for the next four minivans will open at the end of August 2021.   Thank you to all who donated to the HOWA minivan fund and those who bought the wishlist Items!

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We Care in Pahrump, NV

  A generous Community Grant of $3,000 from Walmart was distributed as $50 gifts to nomads in need through HOWA’s We Care Program. Volunteers gathered in Pahrump on April 1st to hand out the gifts. All coronavirus precautions were observed with a drive-through, masks, and plenty of hand sanitizer.  Big smiles could be seen all around in spite of the masks!

To contribute toward HOWA’s next We Care event during the 2021 fall/winter holidays, please go to http://HOWA.rallyup.com/HOWACares.

Thank you Walmart!

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Caravan Connections -“A Wonderful Source”

Being part of a community is important even when we cannot meet in person. HOWA’s Caravan Connections with Zoom meetings on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, are a popular way to get to know fellow nomads. Everyone is welcome to join and participate! The Caravans use both Meetup and Zoom so participants must sign up for Zoom and Meetup.

 A few thoughts from a recent Sunday Morning Women’s Coffee Connection:

 

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We Care Gift Card Program

In early December HOWA received a wonderful donation – $15,000 to be distributed to nomads in need. The anonymous donor stipulated that each vehicle dwelling nomad who could drive to a distribution location would receive a $50 gift. Three locations in Arizona were chosen but due to the great need, the funds were gone after the first two events. The event in Pahrump, Arizona served about 20 nomads; the event in Quartzsite, Arizona, where many nomads spend the winter, served over 300. Additional donations brought the total money distributed to more than $16,000.

For the safety of both the volunteers and recipients, everyone was required to wear a mask. Recipients stayed in their vehicles and material handling was kept to a minimum. The process went very smoothly thanks to an outstanding group of volunteers who directed traffic, accessed the nomad’s need, and distributed gift envelopes. All types of homes on wheels arrived at the distribution location – several motorcycles and even a bicycle!

Walmart Supercenter is donating $3,000 for another We Care gift program that will take place in Pahrump in March 2021. HOWA will continue to accept donations to be added to the $3,000 from Walmart. Thank you to all who donate!  http://HOWA.rallyup.com/HOWAcares

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