NewsLocal NewsLee County


Volunteers spend months helping SWFL rebuild

Couple travels the country building homes
SWFL Helping Hand
Posted at 6:39 AM, Feb 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-07 09:10:44-05

FORT MYERS, Fla — When Bill and France Moriarty planned out their fall and winter, Southwest Florida was not on the itinerary.

“Ian changed our plans,” France says. “But we’re flexible and we can do that. We can go to where we feel we can do the most good.”

They’ve been doing it for more than 20 years. The Moariartys volunteer through Habitat for Humanity’s RV Care-A-Vanners program. It’s for people who take their RVs anywhere in the country and live out of them for two weeks, while they volunteer in a Habitat home build.

Harlem Heights volunteers

But a couple of things make Bill and France different from most Care-A-Vanners. For one, they’re always on the road.

“We’ve been full-time RVing now for 22 years,” Bill says.

And in that time, they say they’ve helped build homes in 37 states.

The other thing that makes them different, is the Moriartys specialize in areas that have been hit by natural disasters.

"When we're there, it's not just that tangible repair job that we're doing,” Bill says. "When we're there, we're helping people get their lives back on track."

So when Hurricane Ian hit, Bill and France knew they needed to be here in Southwest Florida. Since November they have spent two days a week helping assess the damage and rebuild homes the storm impacted, and three days a week building new Habitat for Humanity homes in Harlem Heights. They have dedicated their lives to this volunteer work.

“It was not an easy decision,” Bill says.

Back in the late ’90s, Bill ran his own construction company in Broward County.

"I say we were the epitome of success. We had the condo on the Intercoastal, the cabin on Lake Okeechobee, and toys everywhere. We owned different land,” Bill says.

But the couple began to feel consumed by all that stuff. They felt like they needed a change.

"Little by little we decided to make ourselves available for what God wanted for us,” Bill says.

Over the course of a couple of years, the Moriartys say they sold their business and their homes and bought an RV.

"To get rid of everything we owned and move into a 400 square foot box? It was like, 'wow, can we do this,’” France asked herself at the time.

It didn’t take her long to realize they could. And they could be happier than before. 

“You learn you don’t need as much when you live in an RV,” France says.

The Moriartys say they’re fortunate to have the freedom and the means to help other people in such a meaningful way. And for all the work they put into the homes, they say they get much more back knowing they have helped make an impact in a family’s life.

WATCH NOW | Fox 4 Morning News