If you want to combine your love of RVing with a great cause, the Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanners program is looking for people like you who want a fun way to see the country while creating affordable housing for economically distressed Americans.
Whether you’re a full-time RVer, summer vacationer, or weekend-warrior, if your RV is self-contained you can volunteer with this fun bunch of traveling DIYers.
The Care-A-Vanners meet up in many parts of the country (and internationally too!) for charitable on-site projects ranging from house construction, interior and finish work, renovations and even disaster relief.
This program allows you to support Habitat for Humanity’s vision of “…a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”
How to Become an RV Care-A-Vanner
You don’t need to be a professional tradesman or strong enough to swing a hammer to volunteer with Care-A-Vanners.
All that’s required is your own RV and a willingness to help out wherever your skills are needed.
For example, if you don’t have any construction skills you can work in the job-site office or act as a gopher for the crew.
Or if you’re a public speaking whiz, you can promote the build for local chapters at civic group meetings. There’s no limit to what you can do in helping to complete a Care-A-Vanners project.
Randy Warner, a full-time RVer and a longtime Care-A-Vanners volunteer said that,
The real fun and purpose we are pursuing is about helping people change their lives and to create homes.
His blog, Warner RV News, is filled with many fascinating entries describing the ins and outs of this worthwhile program.
If you’re an individual, couple or organized group, you can apply for a specific project on the Care-A-Vanner’s website.
Habitat for Humanity is a Christian relief organization and morning devotionals are a regular part of every site-build. But the group doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion, age, gender or lifestyles.
Everyone is welcome.
Where Do Care-A-Vanners Volunteer?
Scheduled site builds happen all over the country, wherever a need has been approved for funding by Habitat.
You can plan your travel schedule to match up with Care-A-Vanners projects by checking out the site build schedule and applying for specific locations.
Care-A-Vanners takes great care to accommodate everyone’s travel plans. If you don’t see a site build that works with your schedule, consider volunteering on an individual basis with a Habitat affiliate project from this list of ongoing site-builds.
Some positions allow you to work on your own, while others are more team-oriented.
You’ll be provided with tools, materials and a free or low-cost campsite.
Expect to work at least two weeks with anywhere from eight to twenty volunteers.
At least once a year the organization holds an organized trip to a foreign country where members rent RVs and complete badly-needed projects for citizens in some of the world’s most impoverished regions.
Whether you enjoy country scenery or a fast-paced urban environment, you’ll often find a job site that appeals to your tastes.
Some job sites are rural, some are not but all affiliate chapters will help accommodate your RV with a nearby electrical hookup, water access and a nearby dump station.
Campsite accommodations are low-cost and sometimes even free. A few of the more urban, popular areas such as Florida snowbird destinations, require camping fees.
But don’t worry – in addition to feeling good about helping a great cause, some if not all of your volunteer-related expenses may be tax-deductible. Check out George Montgomery’s book “Can I Write-off My RV?” for useful advice about how to make use of tax deductions when volunteering.
You’ll need to arrive prepared with a few basics, including sturdy work clothing and shoes, and simple construction gear including a tool belt, hammer, square, pencil and measuring tape.
Other tools and all materials will be provided by the on-site host affiliate chapter. Most projects will accept your donated materials, too.
Expect to work a six or seven hour work day with usual breaks, including lunch (which is sometimes provided to volunteers).
Unfortunately you will need to leave your pets at home or in your RV. For safety reasons, pets aren’t allowed on the job site.
What Do Care-A-Vanners Say?
If you read through the Care-A-Vanners newsletter archive and you’ll see heartfelt, genuine descriptions of what RVing volunteers have to say about their experiences.
In the June 2014 newsletter, Mary Vandeveld, RV Care-A-Vanner coordinator says:
We have many good friends that we acquire through our experience with the Care-A-Vanner program. I’d have to rank that up there near the top as far as rewards.
We meet old friends and new friends on builds across the country (and 25th anniversary celebrations). We share fellowship on our builds, also known as morning devotions and happy hour, but what is really gratifying is working with a partner family to effect a life change for that family.
Sharing in the emotion of a house dedication will give you a sense how you have helped lift a family from poverty just by providing safe, affordable housing.
Volunteering for a good cause like Habitat is something that not only benefits the recipient of your efforts, but it improves the lives of volunteers as well.
…those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.
Hitting the road in your RV for a good cause isn’t just fun – it’s great for your health too!
Learn more and sign up at the Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanners website and start changing lives in America and beyond.
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