As of 2:00 this afternoon, the three posts I’ve written on Gail’s homemade cargo to camper van conversion have received over 31,500 hits.
The vast majority of the hits, 28,447 were on how she actually did the conversion.
So, as a tribute to Gail, I’d like to share the history of how all of this came about.
Before her husband’s job moved her to Texas, Gail lived in Florida. She and her husband bought several acres of land on a bend in the St. Mary’s River. Their land was screened by trees from neighbors, and once you were on their property you could imagine yourself deep in the woods, although they were actually only minutes from shopping and all the conveniences of civilization. Across the river were public lands that could never be developed.
Gail designed, and drew up the plans, for her dream house. It was a Victorian style house with huge front and back porches running the length of the house. The view from the back porch was spectacular. The white porch had white wicker furniture with colorful cushions, and always there were overflowing pots of red geraniums in bloom. They had huge windows and French doors, so although the house was not large, it felt open and spacious. Gail originally designed it to accommodate large family gatherings. It looked like a page out of Southern Living.
She and her husband planted orange trees and other fruit trees, azaleas, and all kinds of flowers. They built a greenhouse, and he usually had a vegetable garden. He loved canning the produce. They thought it would be their forever home.
About that time, Gail became aware of the huge numbers of homeless women. Many of them were older, and became homeless when they lost jobs or as a result of broken relationships. She was also concerned about how she would support herself if she herself ever became widowed.
So she drew up plans to divide her house and create four beautiful little studio apartments utilizing the front porch, her former office, half of the huge living room, and part of the back porch. She would have a common laundry area on the back porch. She would rent only to women on Social Security because generally older, single women make better tenants. And with their Social Security checks, they would be able to afford the modest rent.
She checked the codes for her area, and as long as she was renting out part of the house she lived in, she could choose her potential tenants.
She was thrilled with her plans. She couldn’t save the world, but she could provide a home to four women.
But then the company her husband worked for started scaling back. In order to keep his job, he would have to move to Texas. So they sold their house, moved to a small town in Texas, and bought a small house with a tiny lot in a suburb there. Gail’s plans for helping homeless women were squashed.
But by then, I had visited Gail in my Aliner and infected her with the RVing bug. One day I told her, “You know there are people who live full time in vans that they have converted themselves.” So she started tearing the web apart looking at how people converted cargo vans to camper vans. She wanted a camper! And she wanted to build her own!
So she did. And while she was building it, it dawned on her that a homemade camper van was another way homeless women could still have a pretty house with feminine touches. Granted, it wasn’t an ideal solution. But it beat living on the streets and was a lot safer.
So Gail and I talked about how to get that information out to people who could use it. I suggested doing a how-to article on my blog. We both prayed that God would use it to give hope and direction to homeless women who needed a pretty place to live.
We have no idea how many homeless women have benefited from the article. We do know that it has reached a lot of people who want to build their own inexpensive campers.
And we like to believe that it has made a difference in at least a few homeless women’s lives.