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Non-Profit Converts Busses into Homes

“I've seen what homelessness does to families.” says Leo Gorcey, “I've seen how it rips apart families, I've seen what it does to children. When I think about the children in this country, in our country, that we let our children go without food and shelter, I had to do something.”

Leo Gorcey is development director for vehicles for changes, a non-profit organization in Oregon that converts retired school busses into homes for homeless families. For Leo’s wife Julie—this is literally a dream come true.

Leo says, “She literally had a dream, like an actual dream, and woke up and said, ‘Oh, my God, I had this dream about – that-that we were making these buses for homeless families.’ She wrote a little blog about the dream she had, and the next day we had a woman, who didn't want to be identified, from the Midwest who gave us a grant for $25,000 a year for five years.”

They began working to make a change for Oregon’s ever increasing number of homeless families.

Leo says, “The fastest growing segment of homeless people right now is homeless parents with children. There are 20,000 homeless children just in the state of Oregon. So we want to stop generational homelessness. We have to stop it now.”

The Ashland school district donated the first bus and the next day the dream was put into motion. Around the same time David Flood and his family of five found themselves homeless after health problems left them unable to pay rent.

David says, “Our finances had changed drastically, unexpectedly and so we ended up camping out a lot. It was still kind of an adventure; it was still kind of waiting to see what God was going to do on our behalf. And then they closed down the campground and the five of us ended up in our car. It was such a small space, didn’t feel safe. And then my wife had mentioned she saw Vehicles for Changes and said I think I should call.”

Once they connected, Leo and his team worked hard to make a self-imposed deadline for the Flood family.

Leo remembers, “You know Julie kept saying, ‘We gotta finish it by Thanksgiving, we gotta finish it by Thanksgiving.’ And I'm running around going ‘It's never going to happen.’  And she goes, ‘No, it's gotta happen.’ And I’m going ‘It's never.’ ‘No,’ she goes, ‘It's gotta happen. I want them in there by Thanksgiving.’ So we did finish it.

The day before Thanksgiving 2018 David Flood and his family stepped into their new home on wheels.

David says, “We used to sing ‘We all live in a Yellow Submarine’ as a family and liked that song and never imagined living on a yellow school bus. It’s just been pure joy in Jesus Christ that He did this for us. We’re very grateful to Vehicles for Changes cause the bus has become the container, the safety for our family, the reason we’re still together as a family and it holds all the difficult and all the joyous times we go through and so it’s meant a lot for our safety and our protection and holding everything we have as a family, and my son likes to say, you look at the bus from the outside it looks like a regular yellow school bus but when you go inside it’s like a mansion it just opens up. So it’s all perspective.”

Vehicles for changes has since hired Alex Daniell a long time tiny house builder to scale up production on the next several busses. He says he’s thrilled to be involved.

Alex says, “I’m thankful – I'm thankful for a feeling of hope and what this might bring. It's a way of connecting with spirit. I kind of – I get a high when I'm in here doing this kind of work and working with the people that I'm working with doing it. Any way to keep these families intact. I think that these buses are just the perfect solution because, you know, working families, you know, they have a job and they've got kids and their kids keep going to school, they don't run away, they stay intact.”

As production ramps up on several new busses, David Flood and his family have enjoyed one full year in their new home. David and Leo both share a new appreciation for the gift of thankfulness this Thanksgiving.

David says, “It’s taken a much deeper meaning for us now and probably will always be related to being grateful for God taking us out of the elements and giving us a safe place to be.”

Leo says, “My Thanksgiving gift last year was housing this family. It was housing this family. I couldn't ask for a better gift than that. Ever.”

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