ROXBURY, NJ - A local camper rental company is allowing nurses fighting the COVID-19 battle to live in its campers for free, and it’s asking others who own campers to follow its lead.
The company, Rental Outfitters, is owned by Ledgewood resident Heather Johnson, a 2001 Roxbury High School graduate. She is married to Port Authority Police Detective Chris Johnson, who also graduated from Roxbury High School.
When surgical technician Christine Slater became concerned about exposing her father and daughter to COVID-19, due to her work duties at Saint Clare’s Hospital, she looked for alternative housing. Enter the Johnsons; rather than rent her a camper, they offered one free of charge.
The detective personally delivered it to Slater in Sussex County and the nurse is now living in the unit.
“I was in such a panic for my dad and my daughter,” said Slater. “I was in constant fear for my family. When I contacted Chris, he immediately put me at ease and helped me so much. I can’t say enough about him and his wife.”
A Camper and a Place to Park It
Johnson said he was happy to help, but it wasn’t an isolated incident.
A week later, he and his wife received a call from nurse Nichole Dorn of Madison, WI. Dorn had traveled to New Jersey to help at a beleaguered hospital in Morristown and desperately needed a place to stay.
Once again, the Johnsons rose to the occasion, setting Durn up rent-free in a camper – this one parked in the Johnson’s driveway.
“We are complete strangers, but we wanted her to know that she had a home away from home waiting for her in New Jersey,” said Chris Johnson, who is assigned to the police command at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
“It was really hard to leave my family, but it was the right thing to do,” Dorn said.
Recalling something that happened recently, she stressed that the Johnson’s hospitality has gone beyond providing her with a camper.
“I was having a bad day, and when I came back to the trailer, their kids had colored pictures thanking me for my service, and it just made my day,” she said. “It is so humbling seeing people come together and help each other out, and they’ve definitely made me feel welcome.”
Three days ago, the Johnsons received another call, this time from a Freehold nurse also concerned for her daughter’s safety while she was assigned to a COVID-19 unit. She contacted the Johnsons, who arranged a pick-up of the trailer and had a State Trooper deliver it to her.
“My wife and I knew that with everything going on, this might be the end of our small business, but we didn’t want to let our resources go to waste,” said Johnson. “These people are going above and beyond the call. If we could help by taking away one less stress or help with their anxiety, we will.”
The detective said today that he is also bringing a camper to the home of a firefighter in Budd Lake who was transporting COVID-19 patients and "now has to self-isolate."
“We’ve been asking if other people have campers to donate,” he said. “If anyone else has camper they are able to donate, we can match them up with a first-responder in need.”
Rental Outfitters can be reached at (973) 440-9082.
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