Service and volunteerism don’t have to stop once you hit the road – there is a diversity of opportunity to give back while living the RV life. Serving others should be a vital part of any journey, and an Outdoorsy journey is no exception. With more and more people getting on the road every day, it’s no surprise programs are allowing you to volunteer while you travel.
One of our favorite such programs is offered by Habitat for Humanity. Known as RV Care-A-Vanners, this service program is open to both full-time RV’ers and folks on short RV trips. Care-A-Vanners are offered RV parking in exchange for helping build a home for a family in need.
First, a bit about Habitat for Humanity
Habitat helps low-income families effectively achieve homeownership – rather than giving away homes, families are given an interest-free mortgage and expected to contribute 20+ hours toward their home’s construction. Habitat families also participate in classes such as financial literacy and home improvement to ensure their family life stays strong. Since its inception, Habitat has built over 800,000 homes for families all over the world – making it the world’s largest non-profit builder.
Habitat for Humanity depends on its volunteers to build affordable homes. Because a professional contractor manages each site, volunteers need not have any special skills. Instead, volunteers are trained on-site and assigned tasks that match their comfort level.
What is Habitat’s RV Care-A-Vanners program?
If you’re like me, the road calls to you like a lost cub calls to its mother. And if you’re even more like me, you feel equally called to serve others. Volunteering is relatively easy when you’re planted, but it can be difficult when you’re on the move.
‘RV Care-A-Vanners’ is designed to solve this. It allows you to volunteer at a Habitat affiliate in a town near your travels. The time commitments range from 4 days to 4 weeks so you can fit volunteering with your schedule.
How can I join RV Care-A-Vanners?
You can become a Care-A-Vanner by simply participating in a build. To find a build that matches your schedule and geography, use Habitat’s list of Care-A-Vanner builds (http://www.habitat.org/cd/rv/schedule.aspx). On that list, you’ll notice a wide range of projects you can sign up for all over the U.S. and Canada. Simply choose a build that works for you and follow the instructions to register.
Where will I park my camper when Care-A-Vanning?
This will vary depending on the Habitat affiliate. As a general rule, RV parking is provided. However, it will most likely be a spot that has no or limited hookups, so be prepared for some boondocking. To confirm RV parking, it is best to contact the affiliate directly. You can easily find their contact info by selecting the Habitat affiliate you want to work with on Habitat’s list of Care-A-Vanner builds (http://www.habitat.org/cd/rv/schedule.aspx).
I want to do this, but I don’t see a location/date that fits?
Habitat also maintains a list of affiliates that can accommodate individual Care-A-Vanners on a rolling basis (https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/travel-and-build/rv-care-a-vanners/ongoing-builds). This can be a great option if you’re on a shorter RV trip and want to volunteer for less than four days.
Should I include volunteering as part of a short RV vacation?
Taking a service day during your RV vacation might seem counterintuitive, but there is something rejuvenating about giving back – it helps the soul to connect with others in an act of selflessness. So, the next time you’re out in the RV, we’d strongly recommend checking out a Care-A-Vanners build.
What about helping after a natural disaster?
In the wake of natural disasters, Habitat is on the front lines helping people to restore their homes. Habitat has formed a special group of Care-A-Vanners who are trained in disaster relief. Check out their site to learn more. (https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/travel-and-build/rv-care-a-vanners/disaster-rebuild-team)
Volunteer service has shaped large parts of my life. While I currently live full time on the road, I am constantly seeking out opportunities to give to the communities I’m in. Habitat’s RV Care-A-Vanners program is a great way for those of us on the road to serve others.
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