Home News Volunteer service, RV style | MIT Technology Review

Volunteer service, RV style | MIT Technology Review


For Fields, it’s the latest expression of a passion for volunteering that has shaped his life. He discovered his passion for volunteering at the age of 15, working for the local Red Cross chapter and volunteer fire and rescue teams.

Although he originally intended to pursue medical research, his volunteer work inspired a change of direction. “I found that I had a knack for working with people,” he said. “I worked for the Mexican National Red Cross for several summers helping them with their youth programs.” This led him to stop and reconsider his plans.

After graduation, serving in the military in Vietnam, Fields married, earned a master’s degree in international management from UC Berkeley, and spent most of his career helping build and operate manufacturing facilities around the world. After returning to the United States, he began working as a management consultant and adjunct teacher.

Fields and his wife Alma started volunteering for Care-A-Vanners shortly after purchasing a small RV in 2014 and have built it two to four months a year since then. They were involved in 25 constructions, with projects in California, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Florida, each lasting one to two weeks.

This work offers multiple rewards. “One of the interesting things about being a volunteer builder is that you’re a broad worker,” he said. “You don’t just do carpentry work or just lay the floors. I’ve set up the cabinets, placed the countertops, placed the tiles in the bathroom, set up the trusses. I’ve put up the roof, made the fence, laid the turf, and swept the floors —almost anything you can think of.”

But he said the best part was being able to go back to the home they helped build and see the kids playing in the yard. “A lot of families come from housing environments where kids are afraid to go outdoors,” he said. “All of a sudden, they’re here – they have their tricycles, they’re screaming in the street, they’re playing with their dogs. That’s the most valuable thing to me.”

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