On Saturday morning, Nia Amoruso will get in her car – packed with non-perishable foods, fresh produce from a community garden that she tends and sleeping bags – and start driving west. If she’s lucky, she’ll complete her trip, its end more than 1,700 miles away from her Norfolk home, within 48 hours.
Her destination? Standing Rock, North Dakota…
Amoruso said she had been following the story of a Native American nurse who was assisting people at Standing Rock when Amoruso noticed that she didn’t have adequate shelter to withstand the grizzly weather conditions.
“The nurse – she was really sick at the time. She wound up with pneumonia,” Amoruso said.
Inspired to act, Amoruso set up a GoFundMe fundraiser – a website that allows anyone to donate funds to any of the site’s user-created campaigns – to purchase first aid supplies and a medic tent for the nurse to use and sleep inside.
Slowly, donations started to trickle in from people who had seen the campaign shared on social media sites. Soon, Amoruso had raised more than $2,000 – enough to purchase a shelter.
Amoruso soon discovered that money wasn’t the only problem she faced. She didn’t know how to get the shelter to North Dakota.
“I spoke with her and told her I wanted to get her a shelter,” Amoruso said, “but I had no idea how to get it to her. She only had a P.O. box, and you can’t send something so big to a P.O. box.”
By a stroke of luck, Amoruso was introduced to a woman named Mera Rose Doe who lives in Northern Virginia. A set designer, Doe wanted to use her talents to help provide shelter to those in need at Standing Rock but needed funds to make it happen.
“It was just by pure grace that I was able to connect with her,” Amoruso said.
Doe had also created an online fundraiser but hadn’t been able to raise enough money to build the structures. Combined, Amoruso and Doe now had everything they needed to build tiny houses.
According to Doe’s fundraiser, the winter dwellings will sleep up to 12 people. The houses will have finished floors, solar panels on the roofs and working stoves. As of Thursday evening, more than 25 people had volunteered to travel with Amoruso and Doe to help build the houses. Amoruso said they hope to construct three of the structures next week.