What possesses someone to give? Most give out of abundance. Some give from guilt, while others give to be genuinely helpful. Not often do you find someone choosing to give as a form of self-healing. Yet, when Michael and Randi Kilbourne needed a tangible way to grieve the loss of a son and heal their family, this is the path they chose, by helping others.
How does a family turn broken hearts numb with grief into hearts overflowing with abundance and concern for others? How does Helping Others become a mission, not just an action?
It starts with an RV. When a friend generously offered to loan the Kilbourne’s their RV, they gladly accepted and hit the road to find a new normal. When you are rooted in thankfulness and generosity, that new normal means giving back.
Whether helping to fill food pantries or distribute food, sponsoring kids to camp, or feeding firefighters, helping others was what they knew, and pursued with intent.
Pursuing with intent is difficult if you are a new RVer in an unfamiliar RV. Not only did they have to contend with the sudden tragedy in their lives, but they still had to deal with RV breakdowns, plumbing problems, electrical issues, and all of the other nuances that RVers constantly face.
That first year was not easy. Grief lingers. It tugs, and pulls, and reminds you. During that process, the scales fell from their eyes, Michael and Randi’s new vision of Helping Others was clear, and Vision of Giving was born.
Now in their second year, both their passion and their RV have been upgraded. Using tools such as CampgroundReviews.com, RV LIFE Trip Wizard, and the RV Life GPS & Campgrounds App, Michael, Randi, and the rest of their clan travel the country in their big diesel pusher, given to them by the same friend that loaned them the first one.
In traveling, the Kilbourne family continues to reach out to families, churches, food pantries, and any other benevolent need they can find. Partnering with local resources in each community, the Kilbourne’s come in with fresh faces, positive attitudes, and a wherewithal that says, “We’ve been there, it hurts, and we know how you feel.” By coming alongside others to serve the least of these, they are transforming their hurt into hugs, their grief into giving, and their pain into providing.
Financing such an adventure is never easy, but asking for donations is not in their wheelhouse. Instead, the Kilbourne’s have extended their Vision of Giving to challenge others by offering their annual Commemorative Challenge Coins.
Unique each year, the Challenge Coin provides a way for others to participate in their giving efforts while providing a tangible reminder of the purchaser’s participation. Further satisfaction is achieved when you pass on the coin, which bears the words “Thank You For Your Help,” to another in appreciation for something they may have done for you.
RVers are a generous bunch, and often wish to help others but often don’t have a local home base in which to contribute, or simply don’t have the connections to know that their money is being put to truly good use.
The Challenge Coin ensures that you receive something for your investment, and the work that Vision of Giving is doing ensures that those dollars are doing good things in the communities that the Kilbourne’s visit. Michael and Randi hope that you’ll enjoy your Challenge Coin, get new ones each year, and think about passing them on to others that help you.
The Kilbourne family has realized that for them, giving creates healing. Healing produces thankfulness, and thankfulness breeds giving.
RV LIFE got to know the Kilbourne’s a bit. Here’s what we found out.
RV LIFE – How many of you are traveling in the RV? Who are they?
Michael Kilbourne – In 2018, there were three of us traveling; myself, my wife Randi, and our 18-year old son, Connor. As we traveled together, the RV allowed us to be close-knit, to heal together. We all experienced the positive effects of helping others in each location we visited. Every experience affected each of us in our own way, while also affecting all of us together.
RV LIFE – What’s the first advice you would you give to a new RVer?
MK – Don’t over plan everything and don’t try to fix every problem before you start. Don’t wait for the perfect time or for the stars to align before you take the leap and start RVing. Just pack it up and go, remember you need to start before the adventure can begin.
RV LIFE – How do you figure out which city you will travel to next?
MK – At first it was a bit random. We would call community centers, churches, or outreach facilities and offer to visit and donate our time. Now, we select locations in the areas of the country where we think we can make a difference. We also use personal destinations to help create the route.
If we are visiting family in North Dakota, for example, we would plan a day to give back to that community. Additionally, we are often contacted by any number of people or organizations requesting us to visit and share our story in person with them. This is our favorite, when people learn who we are and feel that we can provide a profound benefit by sharing and telling our story of hope through healing.
RV LIFE – Do you consider yourself full-time RVers?
MK – We do consider ourselves full-timers as our primary time is spent in the RV traveling. We still have a home base in South Carolina and travel back there periodically to recharge and see our grandson. In 2020 we feel the RV will be our permanent home.
RV LIFE – What types of campgrounds or locations do you stay in?
MK – We stay everywhere: rest areas, Walmart, campgrounds, and everywhere in between. Because our coach is self-sufficient, and we don’t need to plug-in every day. It allows us the flexibility to go anywhere and stay anywhere for up to five days as long as we have fuel for the generator. This flexibility allows us to truly go anywhere we are needed.
RV LIFE – What is your favorite city to stay in?
MK – Knoxville, Tennessee provided my family some of the most personal healing experiences we ever received, and that we will never forget. Lexington, Kentucky welcomed us in at every level.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin was a place that we called home for 24 years before we moved away in 2010, and has lifted us up and shown us love and affection as one of their own. These are just a few of the over 40 cities that we have spent time in, and all of them have always shown their best side to us.
RV LIFE – How long will you continue to travel?
MK – This is now our new permanent environment. We are sketching out locations across the United States for the next seven years. The joy we are being given at each location we visit is a level of healing and happiness that I cannot describe.
In our view, why would we stop traveling and sharing our time with others when it provides us so much happiness? The RV lifestyle brought my family back from a horrible tragedy, how could I ever stop doing something that I have come to love every day?
All around RV industry enthusiast who has been RVing for 8 years and enjoys trips with his wife and dogs in their diesel pusher.