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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
Vice-President
Homes On Wheels Alliance, Inc.
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Fall 2023 BYOV

Recipients Jimmy, Michell, Julie, Suzanne, Christine, and Shannon 

Due to the constraints of HOWA’s  liability insurance, the Bring Your Own Vehicle events were on hold for most of 2023. The good news is we now have insurance that covers the events! However, the insurance does not cover the skilled volunteers who had been installing components in recipient’s vehicles so the recipients at the Fall 2023 BYOV received plug and play portable solar power systems which included 200W of solar panels and a Bluetti EB70S power box.

 

As each of the recipients unboxed the components, volunteers David Wall and Rachele Adair explained how everything worked.

 

Having a reliable source of power will be life changing for the recipients!

Suzanne who works from home will not have to worry about how to charge her hotspot and her computer.

Having power to run a refrigerator and computer will give Julie more options.

Michelle’s insulin will stay at a safe temperature now that she has the power to run her refrigerator.

Jimmy can charge his electronic devices without running down his car battery.

Shannon is looking forward to having power for small appliances to make her life easier.

And Christine will be able to keep all of her electronic equipment charged.

Thank you to the recipients, staff, volunteers, and Lectric eBike who made this a successful event!

The generous donation from Lectric eBike has allowed HOWA to purchase additional solar systems. The next BYOV will be held on February 1, 2024. Seventeen nomads will be granted 200 watt solar systems which will include two 100W solar panels for roof mounting, 100Ah lithium battery, charge controller, inverter, 12v fuse block, and all wiring, fuses and hardware. Apply by December 31, 2023 HERE.

Thank you donors! To support HOWA’s programs please click HERE.

 

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2023 RTRs Jan 7 – Jan 20

Over 14 days of WRTR and RTR hundreds of attendees enjoyed seminars, demonstrations, live music, open houses, crafts and games, and a screening of Nomadland.  Food trucks, buskers, a sewing station joined the attractions from earlier RTRs such as the free table, bulletin board, and button table. A good time was had by all! Make plans come to the 2024 RTRs and join in the fun!

Yummy stuff from the food trucks      Informative seminars                          Crafts and games

Performances by musicians like The Nomads, Gong Gypsy, Status Crows, and talented buskers.

Open house! A chance to check out everyone’s rigs for ideas and inspiration.

Learn skills and get tips. Charlene Bower, founder of Ladies Offroad Network, leading a seminar at the WRTR.

Sewing station for free repairs and hemming.

Sweepstakes tickets to win a Bluetti solar system, a Lectric ebike or a handmade quilt. Thank you to the donors of the sweepstakes prizes.

Nomadland on the big screen. You may even get to meet some stars!

Thank you to the many volunteers who helped make the RTRs a wonderful event!

The RTRs are always free, however, donations are appreciated and help pay for the rental of the park, stage, portable potties, movie screen, and movie. 

Thank you for your donations!

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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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