Once the kids are raised, some moms plan to enjoy a bit of well-deserved free time. But Carol Harr didn’t view her empty nest as a chance to relax. Instead, after raising her daughters in Centennial, Colorado and retiring from the state’s labor department, she decided to sell her home and become a full-time roving volunteer.
The 64-year-old Harr sold or donated almost all of her possessions, keeping just a few things in a storage unit. The remainder fit in her car, which she has driven to Florida, Georgia, and back to Colorado on volunteering missions for The Catholic Worker Movement, a social justice charity serving the poor, and World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms (WWOOF), an organization that connects volunteers with organic farmers.
The radical change in lifestyle from settled mom to nomadic volunteer was prompted by a personal tragedy. Five years ago, one of Harr’s daughters gave birth to a baby girl who died after living for less than a day. “It was a real awakening for me,” Harr told Claire Martin of the Denver Post. “I’d been living my life for the future, spending my time cleaning up from last week and getting ready for next week. I took an ecumenical class called ‘Just Faith,’ about social justice, and began learning about living in community.”
Harr lives off her state pension while staying in housing provided by the various charities she volunteers with or with friends. Now that she’s back in Colorado on a WWOOF post, she’s staying with couple in Denver who agreed to host a volunteer.
Harr’s current post lasts through October, and for her next project, she’s invested in a plan to band together with others to create a co-housing community on the site of a former Denver convent — a good base for her plan of living light and volunteering.
Harr’s daughter Kati Harr told the Post, “I loved my childhood home so much, (but) even more important than my nostalgia is actively supporting my mom’s innate and deeply rooted desire to help her community and fellow beings. I really feel the route to happiness is walking within your values, living in a way that upholds the things you hold to be the most dear. My mom is a shining example of this. I am so lucky and blessed to be her daughter.”