Habitat for Humanity International  
Care-A-Vanners Updates

December 2019
  Featured news

I have a few upcoming events to share with you.

First is our 30th Anniversary Build and Rally in Fort Myers on April 7-14, 2019. Do not miss this. Registration will open on Sept. 6. There is plenty of room for everyone! The cost is only $200/RV or $100 if you don’t bring your rig. That includes a week of camping, two banquets and a whole lot of neat swag. Camping is at the Lee Civic Center. We rented the whole place for our event, so now we just need to fill it!

We are planning to offer a disaster response course the week prior to the event beginning on April 1. It will be held in Fort Myers and RV parking will be provided. An application process will be open this fall. I will send out an email to everyone with more details about the qualifications needed to take the course and how to get an application.

There will also be a Competent Person Safety Training offered the week prior to the rally. All Care-A-Vanners taking the disaster response course will take this two-day course along with all the house leaders for the event. Again, RV parking will be provided. This course will qualify you to act as a Competent Person on a Habitat job site if asked by the affiliate to take on that role. All attendees to the rally will get a four-hour general safety awareness course during the week of the rally.

Finally, we will be offering the Habitat Construction Safety Training Dec. 2-7, 2018, in Americus, Georgia. RV parking or guest housing will be provided along with some of your meals. This is an intense course that enables you to become one of our safety trainers, qualified to teach the Competent Person Safety Training. The deadline for completing an application for this course in Aug. 24. Contact me for a link to the online application.  

These are great opportunities to boost your skills and talents so the Care-A-Vanner program can better serve our host affiliates. Thanks for all you do!

Mary Vandeveld
RV Care–A–Vanner Program Manager
On Facebook

Six hundred and ninety-eight affiliates: The number of affiliates that saw a Care-A-Vanner in fiscal year 2018, either through our building program or through safety training. That is 55 percent of all US affiliates. Care-A-Vanners are having an impact!

Competent Person Safety Training:
If you are interested in taking the two-day training, please contact Mary Vandeveld to find a course near you. There is no charge for a Care-A-Vanner to take the training.  

Hanging up the keys: Terry and Dee Tome have built with the Care-A-Vanners since 2009. They have done 27 scheduled projects with us, and I am sure countless drop-ins. They plan to attend the 30th Anniversary Build and Rally, so everyone can get a chance to see them again. Be sure to read the “Why We Build” article this month by Ty Jones as she highlights the Tomes’ Care-A-Vanner careers. We wish them the best of luck in this new chapter of their lives and look forward to seeing them at the rally!

Seventy-four: The percentage of surveyed U.S. Habitat homeowners that say their health has improved since moving into their homes.

Winnebago Grand National Rally
just wrapped up as I write this. This year we had 10 rigs from our Winnebago International Travelers Special Interest Club, RV Care-A-Vanner Habitat Builders. They helped man our booth, showed interested newbies how to build on our shed-building project and just made a lot of noise for Habitat. A special thanks to our partners, Habitat for Humanity of North Central Iowa, who hosted the shed build. If you have a Winnebago and would like to join our club, please contact Ty Jones. There is no cost to belong. We just want to show Winnebago how many Care-A-Vanners have Winnebagos!
Featured builds

Lansing, Michigan (GV18-0260, 9.9.18-9.18.28): Camping is now free!

Alice and Mason, Texas, builds will be listed in late August or September. They will not be listed all at the same time.

Fall builds: There are some great builds in the fall that need signups. Please go to our build list to sign up.
Why We Build
By Ty and Larry Jones

We first met Terry and Dee Tome in West Liberty, Kentucky, at a disaster build, and we quickly became close friends. Dee and I found we could work together and bond over stories of our grandchildren and many conversations women like to share.

While Terry and Larry would be doing “manly jobs,” Dee and I would work hard on tasks to show how women were worthy of the job as much as men. Often, we ended up with clean up and painting, and one time we filled a dumpster full of trash that had been left at a house forever — so much trash.

One of our biggest accomplishments was hanging all the J-, F- and other channels by ourselves to finish a porch out – a great accomplishment. No matter what Dee Tome and I did, we could laugh until we cried. There were times we were requested to work with Terry and Larry as well. Dee and I did, not happily working with our husbands, but we did as requested. There always seemed to be a big discussion, but the four of us would end up laughing and enjoying the day as well. We all love working hard, love what we were doing and love being RV Care-A-Vanners.

Terry and Dee had been Care-A-Vanners long before we met them, starting in 2009 at Richmond, Indiana. They have done a tremendous amount of builds and have been an asset to the program. Their contribution has been large and I know greatly appreciated by many. Sadly, they are getting off the road, and we will miss them terribly as will many of you. Age and health has dictated to them that it’s better to be safe and smart and to leave with no injuries. I commend them for making this decision – a hard decision to make. They will reside in their lovely condo in Monroe, Ohio, during the summer enjoying their grandchildren, and winter will find them in Seminole, Florida, where they have parked an RV permanently. Terry and Dee are involved with so many giving projects that they will keep busy. Terry enjoys keeping up on Facebook, and they would both love to hear from you at tdtome@gmail.com. We wish God's blessing to this wonderful, giving couple.
Team leader corner

A very special thank you goes out to our July team leaders. They are: Jerry and Lori McHugh, Bill and France Moriarty, Andrea and Charles Putnam, Tom and Peggy Wilcox, Dottie and Chris Thompson, JP Smith and Larry and Margot Durham.

Remember, if you’ve been thinking about becoming a team leader but are not sure what’s involved, contact me at bsawyer@habitat.org and I will send you the guidelines. Organization and communication skills are more important than construction skills. If you serve as team leader at least once during the year, you will receive a very nifty team leader T-shirt! It is so important that everyone take their turn at leading a build.

Surveys: Please be sure to encourage your team members to complete the survey sent electronically toward the end of the build. As team leaders, it is very important for you to complete one as well.

Rosters: If you are unable to read the roster I sent you or things appear to be on the wrong lines, chances are you have a Mac or iPad, and Word documents do not format correctly. Just let me know and I will send them in PDF. Also, please remember to include the GV number or at least the location and date of your build when contacting the Care-A-Vanner desk about a build.

Cancellations: If someone on your team cancels, please remind him or her to cancel their registration. In addition, it would be helpful for you to pass along that information to me. The sooner we make that space available on the website or to someone on the waitlist, the more likely we are to fill that spot.

Reminder:  As team leaders, it’s important to remember that the Care-A-Vanners “serve the affiliate.” This means that we do what they ask us to do, when they ask us to do it and how they ask us to do it. It is perfectly acceptable to offer a different technique but, ultimately, we do it the way the affiliate requests. An obvious exception is if a Care-A-Vanner feels a task is unsafe. Similarly, it is perfectly acceptable (and recommended) that the team leaders determine the number of hours the team works in a day, but we generally work the days the affiliate requests.

Thirtieth Anniversary Build and Rally:  I plan to have a get-together for team leaders and those interested in being team leaders. It will be a time to share ideas. Please let me know some of the topics you’d like to discuss.

What motivates you to serve as a team leader? I would like to hear from you about what motivates you to serve. Please send me a story about your experience. I will post it here with the hope that your story will move others to take their turn at team leading.

Devotions:  Our devotions coordinator is Bill Oates. He can be reached at just.ducky0109@gmail.com.  Please send him your favorite devotions. If you need devotions to add to your file, please contact Bill and he will send them out.

Finally, team leaders are needed for the following builds:
Oct. 14–28 Las Cruces, New Mexico
Oct. 28–Nov. 11 Las Cruces, New Mexico
Nov. 4–18 North Fort Myers, Florida

Thank you and happy hammering!

Brenda Sawyer
Team leader coordinator

Spread the word
Send your RV friends a Care–A–Vanner brochure about this wonderful mission by pasting this PDF into an email or just printing it out to give to fellow RV owners in campgrounds.
Safety corner

Bits and pieces – a year later

As I write this, I’m in the midst of getting ready to head to Airventure in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, as I was last year at this time when I did a column titled “Bits and Pieces.” Airventure is one of the largest gatherings of aviation enthusiasts in the world – a group to whom safety is a very big deal, as it should be. However, there are still safety issues that nag at General Aviation, despite all the education and attention given to these concerns. One simple safety issue to resolve is overbanking, or steeply turning, the airplane on final approach, which can induce a fatal stall-spin incident. The fix is easy. Don’t overbank! But, it still happens.

This situation reminds me of what we are doing in our own safety program and the issues we still have to resolve. Despite our teaching, such as through the Competent Person Safety Training and our daily toolbox talks on the build site, we still don’t do some of the things we need to be doing to be safe.

As we travel around the country and visit Habitat construction sites, we see the “gaps” in safety practices. They include the usual offenses – not wearing hard hats or eye protection, not having fall protection or having it and not using it, to name a few. Why are we still guilty of these things when we know better and should be setting an example for others? It may be that some of us just don’t care. Some may have forgotten. These errors are not unlike the pilot who overbanks – he does so without thinking, and the result that can be fatal. Our failure to use safe building practices can also result in serious injury or a fatality!

This “bit” harkens back to a piece I wrote in January referring to the famous Walt Kelley cartoon, “Pogo,” where Pogo says, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!” When we know we should be doing something, we should do it. When we know others should be doing something, we should help them understand why, so they do it as well. My encouragement to all Care-A-Vanners is to be safety leaders. Help us spread the safety culture among ourselves and to the affiliates where we build. Be the example of how it should be done.

Another “bit”— last month we talked about environmental hazards that can be personal safety issues for us, specifically ticks and mosquitoes. Thanks to Chuck Baldacchino for that suggestion. Chuck followed up with an email about some of the other hazards we need to watch for, including bees, wasps, fire ants and snakes – “oh my!” (with credit to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz).

Not making light of his suggestion, I note that there are, in fact, many hazards we need to be aware of on job sites. While I won’t get into it extensively, Chuck makes a good point about being sure that our bodies are properly covered to prevent contact with bugs and poisonous plants. In addition to preventing bug bites and stings, covering your skin is also a good way to prevent sunburns and skin injuries. We can treat clothing with permethrin/DEET compounds to ward off insects (some pretreated clothing is available for purchase) and make sure that caution is our by-word. Anyone who has sensitivities to stings should let their team leader know, and that person should have the appropriate medications, such as a bee sting kit, with them in case of a sting. They should also let others know where the kit is.

Finally, the Care-A-Vanner program has taken on a significant portion of the responsibility for the Competent Person Safety Training, including course material development and delivery, for which we can be proud. To date, just over 80 percent of the affiliates in the country have had at least one person go through the training. Our immediate goal is to train at least one person at each of the remaining affiliates. Our ultimate goal is to have a Competent Person on every job site during construction activity, which will require more training and take some time to accomplish.

My encouragement to you, reflecting back to the first “bit” in this article, is to share your knowledge about safety at build sites where there is not yet a trained Competent Person. Use your knowledge to advocate for safety. It will benefit all of us, and those we work with as well!

Alan Davis
Master Safety Trainer
Collegiate Challenge and Care–A–Vanners

There are no new Collegiate Challenge builds to report to you as I write at the end of July. Don't forget that you can send me a request to add your name to my email listing to be notified when any new Collegiate Challenge builds are added. Hope everyone is having a great summer.

Diane Gravlee
Welcome new Care–A–Vanners

Daniel and Hillary Banks, Bobby Bran, Fred and Jan Chapin, Ralph and Gina Davis, Dan Ferraro, Elaine Grabin, Steve Hinton, Chris and Deb Hoover, Tad and Glenda Isaacs, Dan Jones, Wendell Jones, Gary and Sandy Krupka, Sue Okerson, Greg and Nita Pfister, Heather Shaw, Verl and Gail Tharp, Jay and Elna Thompson, and Ron and Tina Van Arsdall.

Our apologies if we have included a seasoned Care-A-Vanner or if this is a duplication. Habitat for Humanity is grateful for the work that you do!

Disaster rebuild

We are just starting to list our disaster builds for this next build season in the south. As you know, Hurricane Harvey and Irma did extensive damage and the rebuild is going to take years. We need a lot of help, so watch for builds with “DR” in the title and sign up for one. Remember, we are not first responders, but a rebuild team. When everyone else has moved on to the next disaster, we will be there building new homes and repairing damaged homes to get families back into safe, affordable housing. Remember, please do not self-deploy.

Many Care-A-Vanners have inquired how to join the Disaster Rebuild Team. The best thing you can do is to get build experience. Our Disaster Rebuild Team members often act as construction leaders, so build experience is important. We are planning another disaster response training course in conjunction with our 30th Anniversary Build and Rally. There is an application process for the disaster course. I will send an email out to everyone on the newsletter list announcing when we are taking applications. I will also give updates on my Facebook page. Below are the latest updates on our disaster builds:
  • California fires: I scheduled builds at the Lake County affiliate where they received the highest per capita damage in the 2017 fires. The builds are listed as Lower Lake, California, “DR” builds. All of those builds are scheduled to go on but without additional signup because of permitting issues. Lower Lakes is talking about adding builds into November, so watch for those to show up. With the current fire conditions in California, plans could change. Lake County is located about 100 miles northwest of Sacramento, California.  
  • Beaumont, Texas: This is an affiliate that we have serviced for the last several years. We had some issues last year with new staff that was inexperienced, which was not a surprise after the mess that Harvey left all over Texas. Experienced construction staff is hard to find in Texas. This year, the affiliate has gladly accepted Bill and France Moriarty’s help with training their new construction staff. We will also be sending in one of our Habitat Construction Safety Trainers to get their staff Competent Person trained. A grant will provide them with scaffold and other safety gear they might need. We are working on a long-term solution to RV site availability and should have that solved by the time our fall teams arrive. Those builds should be listed by the time this newsletter comes out. This affiliate is committed to serving the people in Jefferson County and beyond, and the Care-A-Vanner program is committed to helping them do that. Please consider signing up for the Beaumont disaster rebuilds. 
  • Sebring, Florida is a longtime partner of our program. The builds for fall and winter are listed. Although we have not finalized RV sites, they will be pet-friendly. This affiliate did a great job in their immediate response to Irma, and we had a lot of Care-A-Vanners who were an important part of that response. That will continue this next year, so sign up today for a Sebring disaster rebuild. 
  • Middle Keys, Florida: I expect we might be in the Keys next winter, but much work needs to be done to prepare for volunteers. Watch my Facebook page and the newsletter for updates. 
  • As a reminder, we are still rebuilding after the 2011 tornados in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  


U.S. affiliates tithed $13.8 million to support families around the world in FY2018! We are so grateful for your support of our global mission and look forward to another great year ahead.
  Questions, cancellations or concerns:

Updated roster information:
rvinfodesk@habitat.org or ltillotson@habitat.org
or call 1-229-410-7534

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Habitat for Humanity International
322 West Lamar St., Americus, GA 31709