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Van Builds

Four Minivans Awarded!

Due to precautions because of the coronavirus pandemic, the fall minivan build was scaled down to an un-build with a small crew of HOWA staff members and volunteers. Over a two-week period, four recipients of minivans participated in a mentoring program and also spent time arranging  donated Amazon wishlist items into their new homes. Even though minivans are small each becomes a personalized space designed around different needs and decorating styles. Tents from HOWA’s Loaner Tent program served as temporary homes for the recipients until their minivans were ready.

The recipients of the minivans were:

Barbara

Barbara had boondocked for several years in her van but was living in a tent when she applied for a minivan. She received a Honda Odyssey donated by Robin and built out by David and several friends. This minivan was purchased and finished in the eastern US and delivered to the build location by the donors. Besides being thrilled with her new home Barbara is excited about the welcoming community that she’s found with her fellow nomads.

April

April moved into her SUV in June 2020 when rental payments left her with little money for other expenses. During the hot summer days in Missouri, she visited a women’s shelter to take showers and enjoy the air conditioning, but she still preferred the privacy of her own space in the SUV at night. When April was approved for a minivan, she headed to Pahrump, Nevada with barely enough money for gas and some apprehension that the transmission in her SUV could survive the trip. She arrived safely and donated her SUV to HOWA through the CARS program which sells vehicles for charities and returns 70% of the selling price to the donor’s chosen charity. Thank you, April, for the first CARS donation for HOWA!

Cindy

Cindy and her two cats, Bella and Kenze made a home in her Saturn after her roommate died following a long illness.  The car was clearly too small for all three of them and the extra supplies needed for the cats so getting accepted to be a minivan recipient was a godsend. The extra room has allowed Cindy to organize her new home so that everything has a place and is easy to find.

Christy

Christy has been a nomad for two years and lived in her car in Utah for about a year previous to that. She volunteered with HOWA as a caravan host and organizer for the RTR and WRTR. When her 2007 Toyota Sienna needed expensive repairs she was encouraged to apply for a minivan. Since Christy is an experienced nomad many of the components in her Sienna such as the solar system could be transferred to her new minivan home which is also a Sienna.

Thank you all who donated to the minivan fund and the Amazon Wishlist plus a special thank you to the donors of Barbara’s minivan.   Thanks to all the volunteers who helped at the un-build especially the mentors, Ditzy and Lesa, and the construction workers, Dwayne and Bob.

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A Minivan Home For Esther

Growing up in Alaska and camping with her parents as a very young child prepared Esther for a life of adventure. She’s camped on Kodiak Island where huge brown bears fish for salmon, lived in remote villages without running water, and spent two winter months in her car as a trial run to see if she could do it. When Esther became sick in 2017, she couldn’t continue working at her job as a caregiver and instead started training to become a computer programmer, a job that she could do remotely while on the road. The award of the minivan means Esther can live the independent life she has been dreaming about for years.

To avoid spreading COVID-19, HOWA canceled the April 2020 Build Out, however, plans were made to continue with the Minivan Home on Wheels program on a simpler scale. Outfitting the vans with pre-made furnishings allowed the builds to be finished safely by a smaller number of people. In July a 2006 Honda Odyssey was bought, outfitted, and awarded to Esther who completed a two week mentoring program to prepare her for nomadic life. Transferring the title was a challenge due to DMV coronavirus restrictions but once that was done Esther was ready to move into her new home.

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Meet Walt, a HOWA volunteer.

When Walt was 23, this Homes On Wheels Alliance (HOWA) multipurpose volunteer left Boston on a backpacking trip to Kathmandu, Nepal. He knew a lot about camping thanks to his involvement with the Boy Scouts. Walt was gone for six months.

Many decades later, he moved to Arizona. It was his base for journeys to most of the national parks and forests. Walt said he wasn’t familiar with boondocking or how to live on BLM lands and spent those early years in RV parks and fee campgrounds. Knowing there had to be a less expensive way, he watched many YouTube videos such as Cheap RV Living.

Open and inviting, Walt enjoys meeting people and helping new people on how to live their best nomad life. “Fire, Food, and Friendship” is his mantra and he said that a night never passes without a fire (unless circumstances prohibit it). No one is out here alone unless they really want to be.

He has served on many boards and organizations. Walt said there are “lifters and leaners in the world.” Leaners are people who complain about how something is run, but when asked for their recommendations, go quiet. Unless people are willing “to lift” their criticism is not as meaningful. He has helped with the annual HOWA meeting and the live feed.

If you want interesting unguarded conversation and wisdom, look for Walt. He’ll be the one extending an invitation for blueberry pancakes at breakfast or chili at dinner.

Post contribution by: Diana Hollenbeck

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Simply Lesa

Originally from Maine, Lesa has been part of the Cheap RV Living nomadic community since 2005. After years on the road, Lesa was blessed with a piece of property and spent her time as a nomad in her SUV.

In 2018, health issues required that she stay on her property in a travel trailer that was not roadworthy. Healthy again, in April of 2019, Lesa hit the road in her SUV. In September, Lesa returned to her property to sell the trailer to travel full-time and, within two weeks of selling the trailer, the SUV developed an oil leak and her dog was diagnosed terminally ill. Lesa contacted Homes On Wheels Alliance (HOWA) for a tent to sleep in while her application for wheels was being decided.

Lesa just spent her first night in her HOWA no-build build minivan and reports that the bed is “great” and she slept soundly even without the planned window coverings.

Many of Lesa’s life events led to stoicism and her pursuit of minimalism. All of her creative pursuits were taken away in very traumatic ways which led her to connect more with nature while finding meaning and freedom in less. According to Lesa, being a minimalist doesn’t mean living without, but living with things chosen with respectful intention. With gratitude to HOWA, its donors and volunteers, this intelligent and thoughtful woman is looking forward to her next adventure and giving back to the nomadic community in her own special way.

Post contribution by: Diana Hollenbeck

 
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Danyel’s Nomadic Journey

Working away sanding the walls for her new cargo trailer home, Danyel is originally from Michigan. A warm, kind woman with an engaging smile and positive attitude, Danyel started her nomadic life two years ago when she was evicted. She and her son watched lots of Cheap RV Living videos and knew they wanted to live a nomadic life. Her parents had passed away in 2014 and 2016, and she knew she didn’t want to waste any more time being unhappy. Her son had never traveled and they decided to visit places they’d never been.

After a trip to Home Depot, and armed with “no carpentry skills,” they constructed bunkbeds for the minivan and took off on their adventure. They lived in a state park, then Danyel got her first work camping job in Ohio. Her son enrolled in an online high school and graduated this year. Unfortunately, in May, and her second season of work camping, the engine went on her minivan. While her savings was not enough for the down payment on a cargo van, she was able to scrape enough together for one on a 2009 mini SUV.

Through Cheap RV Living, Danyel learned about Home On Wheels Alliance (HOWA) and its mission to help nomads in need. She applied and was selected to receive the cargo trailer at the build-out event in Pahrump, Nevada. Overwhelmed to be selected, her next hurdle was to get to Nevada. She had a new tow hitch and tires installed on her mini SUV. Her son volunteered his savings for Danyel to travel to Nevada and back. She bought a tent. Friends pitched in money to help and her work camping job paid her for the full season although it was not up until November 1st.

Once the build out of her beautiful tiny home is complete, she plans to hitch it up and return to pick up her son and dog. Then it’s back to the West to live her version of the nomadic dream.

Post contribution by: Diana Hollenbeck

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HOWA’s First Birthday!!

Bob’s LIVE FEED 

Join us as we celebrate Homes On Wheels Alliance’s (HOWA) very FIRST birthday!!

 

 

Wednesday, August 28

3 pm Pacific

Additionally, HOWA will be awarding the very first minivan to the deserving recipient LIVE!!

See you there on Bob’s CheapRVLiving YouTube Channel

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