It was great to get to know the Care-a-Vanners while they were in town! Most of them spend about 6 or 7 weeks on the road a year, visiting different Habitat build sites across the country. Sometimes they visit sites close to home in Minnesota, but they’ve also gone as far away as Texas and New Mexico to help out at build sites there. We interviewed a few of the volunteers about their experiences and relationship to Habitat.
Sue & David
Sue and David were looking for a project to do after they retired. A friend suggested they try Care-a-Vanning, and they found that it was the perfect way to do good while traveling and having new experiences. The first build site they visited was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and they remember that their GPS kept bringing them to a cemetery instead of the build site!
Sue and David find it particularly rewarding to work alongside partner families and see their excitement about having a home of their own. Sue tells a story of running into a woman who was two years away from paying off the mortgage on her Habitat home. As a Care-a-Vanner Sue usually only gets to meet partner families at the beginning of their journey with Habitat, and it was inspiring to meet someone who had successfully owned a home for so many years.
Lowell, from the small Wisconsin town of Milton, was the only non-Minnesotan Care-a-Vanner who traveled to Grand Rapids this year. He and his wife, Linda, have been traveling around to different build sites for almost ten years! Lowell’s favorite part of Care-a-Vanning is the people he meets. Some of his favorite Care-a-Vanning memories include sitting around the fire at night with other Care-a-Vanners, relaxing and getting to know each other. Lowell and Linda have stayed in touch with some of the Care-a-Vanners they’ve met. They call Care-a-Vanning “a worthwhile way to spend retirement!”
Diane worked in social work and education for years, and saw up close a need for affordable housing. After retiring she sold her home, and before moving into a new home she saw an opportunity to help. She just started Care-a-Vanning in the past year, beginning with a long stint in Florida, visiting Myrtle Beach and Panama City.
Diane describes her time in Panama City as ”eye-opening” – she saw a lot of inequality and met a lot of people living in transition. However, she also saw that a lot of people were there to help, and she was able to meet people from all over the country. She’s grateful that her only Care-a-Vanning mishap so far has been a flat tire in Panama City, and she immediately found someone to help her out.
The Care-a-Vanners finished their work early enough to visit the office and shop at the ReStore before having one last lunch and taking off. We’re so grateful to have spent time with so many dedicated volunteers, and it’s inspiring to see so many people come together to build a family’s home. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, you can learn more and sign up on our website.