HAMLET — There’s a group of elders who travel around the country in RVs, volunteering their years of construction experience to help those in need of housing.
For the past two weeks, they have been at the site of Habitat for Humanity of the N.C. Sandhills Women Build, completing some of the more complex portions of the home.
They’re made up of men and women as old as 89, and between nine members at the site of the future home of the Pittman family on Curtis Avenue, they put in an estimated 480 hours of labor, according to Bob Birch, a new volunteer with this particular group, though he has been a member of the parent organization, the RV Caravaners, since 2011.
Project supervisor Tony Laird said the group was called in to help make sure the Women Build stayed on schedule and under budget. The women made food for the RVers, and will return to the site in the coming days to finish the details.
On Friday, a smaller group of RVers — all in their 60s — were up on the roof or on their hands and knees working deep into the lingering fall heat with sawdust sticking to their exposed skin.
Ron Veil, also in his first year with the group, may be the most transient of them all. He left his job because of money trouble and decided to become a full-time RVer after meeting Bob Hammer, a veteran RVer.
Since meeting Hammer, Veil has lived solely in his RV for three years. The closest thing he has to a home, he said offhandedly, was a “domicile” in Georgia.
“It was the most radical thing I had ever heard of,” Veil said. In those three years, he has gone on a “bucket list tour,” seeing things he’d never seen and people he hadn’t encountered in 30 years to tell them what they meant to him.
“It’s the biggest opportunity,” Veil said. “I believe God pushed me here.”
Veil looked up and pointed to Hammer, his inspiration for joining the group. Veil noted the novelty of a guy named “Hammer’s” being a multi-talented handyman — “he’s swinging one!”
Hammer is in his ninth year with this branch of the RVers. He said he left his job on an organization’s board in New York state because “I just want to build.”
“All through my life, if I couldn’t afford something, I wanted to learn (how to make it or do it myself),” Hammer said. “Every time I needed help, God put someone in front of me. Now that I’m free to roam, I want to give back.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]