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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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Join Our Community!

Many of our programs foster community building and everyone is welcome to join us!

RTRS

In 2011, Bob Wells, president of Homes On Wheels Alliance, started our oldest program, the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.  The RTR is held every year in Quartzsite, Arizona and features seminars on topics such as solar power, work camping, safety, vehicle maintenance, and other subjects of interest to new and experienced nomads. The Women’s Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, formed to address the concerns of nomadic women, held it’s first official gathering in Quarzsite, Arizona in 2018. Please join us at the 2023 the RTRs which will be held at the Quartzsite city park from Jan. 7 to Jan. 20!

Caravans

Realizing that many new nomads are alone and overwhelmed by the challenges of their new lives, Bob Wells started the Caravans in 2019. Caravan sites are marked with a flag and change location every 2 weeks to keep within BLM restrictions on camping time. The goal of the Caravans is to help new nomads form friendships, become comfortable with dispersed camping, and learn from each other, however, all nomads are welcome. Caravans

Virtual Caravans

Presented as Zoom meetings, Virtual Caravans were born during the coronavirus outbreak when in-person RTRs and Caravans could not be safely held. These proved to be very popular and will continue even though it’s now safe to meet in person. The Virtual Caravans give new nomads and people who wish be become nomads another way to make their journey easier as they can meet people in the meetings and then later meet in person. Virtual Caravans

Facebook

We have four Facebook groups that are geared to towards different aspects of nomadic living – general discussion, finding camping partners, RTR attendees, and WRTR attendees. These groups are moderated to keep the posts helpful and kind and are a wonderful resource for getting advice and sharing your journey. Join Facebook!

Volunteer

Hundreds of people have become successful in their nomadic lives with the support they received from HOWA’s programs. Many then give back by volunteering with HOWA online and in-person.

Your donations keep these valuable programs going!

 

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October 2022 BYOV!

The generosity of the volunteers and donors made it possible for HOWA to expand the October BYOV  and provide needed improvements to the homes on wheels of 18 recipients! As these smiling faces show, when we work together we can change lives. Thank you to the volunteers, staff, donors, and recipients for making the second BYOV a huge success!

Each recipient had their individual needs met as they worked together with their team of builders. Over the four weeks of October seven shelving units, five beds, three plywood floors topped with vinyl flooring, seven ceiling vents with fans, and twelve solar systems were installed. One van received insulation and covering on the walls and ceiling, and five vehicles were fitted with Reflectix coverings on the windows. The build teams were busy!

Meet some of the recipients!

Michelle has multiple chemical sensitivities so she can not have any wood with chemicals from glue or treatments in her van. Her build team was able to mount her solar components on a metal panel eliminating the need for wood.

       

Tina’s and Don’s StarCraft popup trailer is a comfortable home that’s light enough to be towed by their truck but it needed a source of power. Their build team mounted solar components in a storage compartment and now Tina and Don are ready to go boondocking!

Norm is an inventive guy so his new storage units were designed to serve several purposes. The unit at the foot of his bed has a drop-down door that becomes a work surface.

Sheryl’s van was a basic shell which her build team outfitted very nicely with a bed, ceiling vent with a fan, solar system, and Reflectix window coverings.

Jenny’s build team worked with her to create the perfect customized layout. Her van now has solar power, a ceiling vent with a fan, and shelving units.

Woody’s empty cargo trailer was ready for upgrades. A vinyl floor, a bed, and shelving were installed by his team.

Even as hard as everyone was working they still had time for some fun – campfires in the evening, an all nomad pot luck dinner at the Quartzsite town park, and pizza lunches every Friday to celebrate another week of work coming to an end.

 

Two people, one in the second week of the builds and another in the forth week, contracted coronavirus but the HOWA medical team and staff jumped into action with measures such as isolating people who may have been exposed, requiring masks, and conducting tests. Nobody else became sick and the builds proceeded on schedule.

Your donations along with the dedication of the BYOV volunteers have changed the lives of these 18 nomads. Thank you!

The next Bring Your Own Vehicle event will be in the spring of 2023. Applications will be available in February 2023 – HERE. 

If you wish to volunteer click – HERE.

 

 

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The Benefits of Volunteering

(Lonnie installing insulation and a ceiling in Elizabeth’s van)

Volunteering for HOWA helps nomads in need in many ways but it’s also very rewarding for the volunteers. Studies show that volunteering creates a feeling of well being and accomplishment. Solving problems and interacting with other people can lower stress and stimulate brain activity. Volunteers report feeling healthier and happier when they are involved in helping others. An added benefit for BYOV  and RTR volunteers is the community that is created when we come together in the desert to share the work and fun. Lifelong friendships are made at every gathering.

If you would like to volunteer for a BYOV or RTR event please click HERE. The information will be updated for each new event so check the linked page in the weeks leading up to an event. All skill levels are needed and you can volunteer for a day or several weeks, whatever fits into your schedule.

BYOV April 2022 volunteers share their thoughts:  

Mike: I love helping people. It gives me joy as I travel on the road to see others having joy as they start on the road.
Sarah Meg: I think one of the things that is wonderful about HOWA is that those of us who don’t have enough can get what we need and those of us who have excess can give back.
Rob: Volunteering is the most fun thing to do. It’s not like work at all. It’s fantastic. I wish I had know this earlier in life.
Kika: ...with our love and time we can accomplish anything that we want to.
Cathy: I wanted to give back. What bigger difference can you make than building someone’s bed or giving them power. It’s huge.
Deb: Being part of an experience where you are improving someone’s literal home is magical.
Jeannene: We wanted to come to help because that way they have some hope and I think HOWA gives people a lot of hope.
Bob: I‘m having the time of my life. And when you see the people that you are helping, how happy they are, you go home every night feeling great.
Chelsea: I’m finally at a point in my life that I can come and support some people out here just trying to live this great lifestyle. HOWA and CVRL were really helpful to me.
David: As soon as the BYOV came up I hit the volunteer list because I got help similar to that in times past and I just wanted to pass it on.
Kristy: What drew me to volunteer for HOWA – the desire to give back… because they loaned me a tent…and they really saved me when I needed help so I figure if I can come and contribute in some small way I most certainly will!
Stephen: It’s very humbling to be part of this. I’m hoping other people will be encouraged to volunteer for this event in the future.

These are just a few of the many volunteers who were at the April 2022 BYOV. We are grateful for all of the wonderful volunteers who made the BYOV so successful and also the volunteers who give their time and labor so that we can continue the RTRs and other programs that benefit our fellow nomads. Thank you!

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You Are Amazing!

HOWA’s Emergency Fund recently hit a milestone with $50,000 awarded to over 140 nomads in need! This was only possible because of you. Donating to this very important program helps keep nomads in their homes on wheels by providing awards that cover everything from gas money to get to a job location or the installation of a rebuilt transmission. We also provide high quality tents for nomads who have small vehicles and require more living space.

Emergency fund recipients are vetted and donors can be assured that the fund is used to help nomads in emergency situations. Ninety percent of Emergency Fund contributions directly assist those in need within the mobile community. Ten percent goes toward operating expenses to run the Emergency Fund Program.

Below are a few notes of appreciation from nomads who have been helped through the Emergency Fund.

“...I came across one of Bob’s videos and was sucked into days of watching. I told my husband we could do this. He thought I was crazy, but eventually agreed. We made the decision to use the last of our money to purchase a van and make it our home on wheels.
We found a work camper job and headed out with only a little money in our pockets. Unaware that our van would need repairs. A short time after we arrived at our job the van broke. We were at a loss. What were we going to do? Where would we live? We were stranded. We did not have any money. I remembered Bob mentioned the emergency fund in one of his videos. I was scared to apply at first because Bob always said have repair money! In our case this was not possible. I eventually got the nerve to apply and after some emails and prayers HOWA paid for our van to be repaired. We were able to make it to a better paying workcamper job and save enough to go visit my Mom and daughter before heading to our next job…” “Carol”

“Thank you Bobbi! And please thank the committee! This is so incredibly helpful:raised_hands::smile: You guys are amazing, truly and I cannot thank you enough!”  Heather

“…I also want to ask if you would, wherever/whomever the funds came from, to Please give them (and yourself for all your patience and help), a HUGE and very sincere, Thank you and God Bless You all. I will use this wisely and carefully, and truly appreciate it. There is no way I won’t be at the October gathering, assisting however I can.” Brenda

Thank you to all who donate. You have made the lives of nomad in need better in so many ways! To donate to the Emergency Fund please click HERE.

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HOWA Cleans Up the Desert Near Pahrump

Pahrump, Nevada, has been HOWA’s home base since its inception, so the Nevada desert holds a special place in our hearts. That’s why, during the spring 2022 BYOV (Bring Your Own Vehicle) build in Pahrump, a group of HOWA volunteers took it upon themselves to clean up the desert.

For Jaime Abbas-Restorff, it all started when she drove past some king-size piles of garbage on her way to the build. And we mean that literally—she saw a king-size box spring and a household toilet littering the desert, among other large piles of trash. “The people of Pahrump open up their community to us when we travel here as nomads,” says Jaime. “We want to leave the land better than we found it.”

       

Meanwhile, BYOV volunteer Georgia and HOWA Executive Assistant Phyllis Bickford had the same idea. Independent of Jaime and her co-organizer Jake Holster, they contacted the Pahrump BLM Field Office to ask about collaborating on a cleanup effort. 

At first, the two groups were unaware that they worked separately toward a common goal. But over the course of the month-long build, what began as two small independent cleanup efforts (using volunteers’ pickup trucks to transport garbage) transformed into something much bigger. 

           

Every Friday morning in April was dedicated to cleaning up the BLM land east of Pahrump. Dozens of volunteers participated, despite long days and weeks spent working on vehicle buildouts. The BLM Field office even supplied 30-yard dumpsters to ferry trash to the local dump where it belonged. All HOWA had to do was fill them up.

By the end of April, HOWA volunteers had put in hundreds of hours and picked up over 100 yards of trash.

Nicholas Pay, Pahrump’s BLM Field Manager, shared a hearty thank-you message: “Please pass on my thanks and admiration to the volunteers of your organization that have helped clean up our public lands … The work that you accomplished in a relatively short time is absolutely incredible.”

Jaime even shed a few tears when she was able to admire the beautiful landscape without a pile of trash in sight. ”It made me cry because it looked so different than it did before,” she says.

As nomads, we gratefully use these lands for dispersed camping. Acting as responsible stewards of public land is just one way we can give back to a community and a landscape that does so much for us. Bob Wells, HOWA President, put it this way: “We aren’t the source of the problem, but we want to be part of the solution.”

Here are some tips for picking up litter wherever you find it:

  • Save plastic shopping bags from places like Walmart to pick up trash as you travel. Even picking up a single piece of litter each day adds up over time.
  • Set an example. When others see you cleaning up, they notice your example.
  • Don’t leave it to the states. More and more dispersed camping areas are closing down because state officials are overwhelmed trying to keep the land healthy. State budgets are feeling the squeeze of higher gas prices and other economic shifts just as you are, so don’t assume that state officials will handle cleanup. We can each make a difference.

The cleanup was such a resounding success that we’re already planning to do it again. In October, we will partner with the Pahrump BLM Field Office once again to pick up any trash that accumulates over the summer on our beloved public lands.

Post written by Sarah Kuiken, Trustee

 

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