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My So-Called Book Tour

Unique Community Award: Escapees CARE

Helen said her friends there support her not out of obligation "but out of love."

After sharing a bowl of chicken-sausage gumbo and an oyster po’boy along Bayou Teche in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, we reluctantly hit the Interstate heading West. We pulled into Livingston, Texas, later than planned, but were warmly met by folks at Escapees CARE (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees).

Escapees, for the uninitiated, are members of a club that offers services and a social network to RVers. As they grow older and frailer, they can move to Escapees CARE. It’s a one-of-a-kind nonprofit that was organized to assist folks who find it difficult to hit the road, but who want to remain in their RV home. They live in a 35-site community and receive all sorts of support, including 3 square meals a day.

One woman we spoke with, Helen, had lost her long-time partner two months after they moved there. She stayed because of the loving support she received, she told me. “It’s even better than family,” she said of the support she’d received from her friends there. “They don’t do it out of a sense of obligation, but out of love.”

Dorothy, 87, tooling around in her golf cart with her tiny Chihuahua trotting alongside, had moved there in 1991. “This is where we belong,” she said. “This is like one big family.”

Executive director Russ Johnson hopes the model will spread. “Baby boomers are retiring,” he said. “We need to think of other ways people can live that are less costly. IF we can keep people healthier longer, that will help the whole nation.”

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