By Tracy Perlman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Life doesn’t always go according to plan. After more than 20 years in the mortgage business, Carol Hasbrouck found herself without a job.

“I was looking for another job and I thought, ‘Why are you looking for a job in a profession you don’t like?’ That’s just stupid,” Hasbrouck said.

She thought about her passions and was inspired to embark in a journey that combined volunteering and traveling. Before she could go, she asked her roommate Joyce Claflin if she’d look over the house and pets while she was gone.

Claflin thought about it and said no.

“I was in a job that wasn’t really going anywhere, and I said ‘No, I’m coming with you!'” Claflin said.

Before hitting the road in January, the women decided to call themselves “Dames Gone Wild,” a fun name with a fun mission: helping people, pets and planets across the country. A new goal has since emerged — inspire other women in their 50s and 60s to step outside the box and try something new.

Because the women are volunteering, they aren’t making any money.

“We get donations from family, friends and perfect strangers,” Hasbrouck said. “We need donations.”

Their first stop was in Atlanta, Georgia, where they did data entry for a church.

“It’s the type of work they just couldn’t get to. It may not seem like a lot, it was really big for them, because it’s something that really enhanced their project,” Claflin said.

In North Carolina, the women got their hands dirty, digging ditches for pipes while working for Habitat for Humanity.

“It was awesome and a lot of hard work,” Hasbrouck said. “It was when the heat wave was coming through, too.”

A stop in Louisville brought them to Wayside Mission, a place where homeless people can get job training.

“We cleaned rooms, scrubbed toilets and did things we didn’t necessarily want to do, but knew it’s what they needed. So we were happy to do that,” she said. “We love being of service, but this is not a vacation.”

While in Minneapolis, the Dames have fed homeless and are volunteering with Environmental Explorers. On Wednesday, they’ll walk Nicollet Mall and give away free hugs.

Claflin said the mission is about making a connection.

“People are so busy these days, between computers, cell phones and texting. In life we need to take time and breathe. It’s about looking in people’s eyes and saying ‘I see you, I know who you really are,” she said.

Hasbrouck echoes that sentiment.

“It’s about giving back to others, connecting at a deeper level and re-purposing other people,” she said.

She knows that sense of re-purpose all too well.

“What happened to me personally, I got a divorce after 20 years of marriage, my children went off to college, I was alone. I no longer had an identity, I had no one to take care of. I went into a very deep depression,” Hasbrouck said. “We want women to know if you’ve lost your job, or your husband, or your children, or whatever that may be, that life is not over. There is so much, so much more to living.”

“The bottom line is, anyone can do this,” Claflin said. “It’s about stepping outside the box, and jumping off. It’s been a wakeup call to take a breath, let go of expectations or preconceived ideas and just enjoy life.”

The Dames are planning on visiting 33 cities over the next year. They’re still looking for donations and host families along the east coast.

You can visit their website to learn more about their mission and how to get involved.


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