Jobless 'Dames Gone Wild' Vow to Volunteer Across the Country for One Year
Hundreds of people on Nicollet Mall Wednesday were greeted by three ladies with an offer they just couldn't refuse.
The ladies call themselves "Dames Gone Wild!"
They're on a year-long, cross-country trek to reinvigorate their lives by doing volunteer work everywhere they stop. The journey stems form the fact these self-proclaimed dames are finding that the job market in this rough-and-tumble economy has kicked them to the curb.
So they're going wild--in search of deeper meaning in life.
56-year-old Carol Hasbrouck and 60-year-old Joyce Claflin are good friends from St. Petersburg, Florida. Both are single and both felt unfulfilled with their careers--especially Carol who was let go in January from her job in the mortgage industry.
"I was looking for another job in the same field and realized I'm not even happy in this kind of work any more," she said.
"I was in a part-time job that was going nowhere," said Joyce. "I said to Carol, I'm going with you."
And so, they sat down and came up with the "Dames Gone Wild!" moniker, and then a travel plan. (They claim they had never heard of the notorious "Girls Gone Wild!" videos that consist mainly of college-age women flashing their breasts at cameras. "I looked that up the other day when I heard about it and went 'oh my gosh!'," Carol said.)
The ladies then packed up their car and embarked on a 33-city tour. They have a goal of performing more than 1500 hours of philanthropic endeavors while traveling 12,000 miles in 12 months. (More details can be found at their website www.damesgonewild.com.) Minneapolis was their seventh stop so far. They're supporting themselves through donation from friends, family and strangers. They say they've raised $3500 to sustain the trip thus far.
During the past few weeks, they've assisted seniors, read to children, aided Habitat for humanity, and more. "We worked in a mission cleaning rooms for the homeless," Joyce said. At a holistic center, "we washed walls and yoga mats. All for free."
Wednesday was their first time administering free hugs. "You know you want one," Carol yelled to passers-by. Most people embraced them willingly.
"Bring it on," said one girl as she embraced Joyce.
"That's nice," said a man to Carol.
Their friend Sharon Saraga, who was in town visiting her twin sister, joined as a "Dame for a Day." She seemed to revel in all the hugging. "No one's a stranger," she said. "They're all beautiful." And the smelly and sweaty people? "I didn't notice," she laughed.
"What's this for?" asked one man as he accepted a hug. "It's for loving, spreading the love," Carol answered.
As more and more Americans continue struggling to make sense out of their lives in the "new normal" (the post-recession world we live in), the women say they realize their decision to throw caution to the wind and take off to the unknown is courageous--to say they least. And they admit they've second-guessed their decision on occasion. "Every now and then we get that way," Carol said. "Fortunately we don't get that way all on the same day!"
Ultimately, said Joyce, "this is about being free and letting our souls just run wild."
Because despite the setbacks all Americans might have at one time or another, Carol wants to remind them, "Life is not over. Regardless of what happens, there's more to living."
For example, free hugs.
Said one grateful man as he embraced each lady, "I needed that. Thank you. God bless you!"
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at email@example.com