TOGETHER INSPIRED: Lake Isabella man turns used vans into living spaces for homeless veterans

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LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KGET) — To Jason Thorwegen, the age-old idiom “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” couldn’t be more accurate. After spending 32 years on the streets, Thorwegen knows what it’s like to be cast away from society.  

“Sometimes, people just take one look at you, and they want to go the other direction,” said Thorwegen

The resident of Lake Isabella endured a dark childhood, leading to years of substance abuse and homelessness. 

“I should be somebody that’s been in prison, hospitalized, or laying in the gutter somewhere,” said Thorwegen.

However, after three decades, Thorwegen was able to grip on his life by saving enough money to buy and convert a used van into a living space. The shift in his living situation pushed the Kern River Valley man to help others in the homeless community do the same. 

“Too many people suffer out there, and not enough people stand up for them,” said Thorwegen.

Living on disability from multiple car accidents, Thorwegen now has an apartment to himself. However, he still spends most of his time in and around vans. These days he buys, renovates, and gives away the vehicles to veterans struggling to adjust to civilian life. 

“I don’t just give these vans away,” said Thorwegen. “I help them get a license or insurance.” 

The pseudo nonprofit is called “Van for a Plan.” The project is almost entirely paid for out of pocket with some donations from his GoFundMe page. 

“Sometimes, I’m giving away free vans with less than $100 in my pocket,” said Thorwegen.

After giving away three vans in the past two years, he’s once again asking the community to chip in. He hopes to raise enough money to start converting vans into fully furnished spaces equipped with abed, stove, and refrigerator. 

“These guys gave absolutely everything,” said Thorwegen. “This is the least we can do.” 

If you would like to donate to Thorwegen’s project, you can do so by calling (562) 528-2975 or clicking here.

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