Carole Bennett isn’t the kind of person to sit still. She tries to squeeze every minute out of every day, and it’s filled her life with interesting pursuits. From a career as an executive in Hollywood to therapy to gourmet nuts, she has a lot of experience.
Today, Ms. Bennet balances four businesses, and cares for six chickens, two bunnies, a horse, a tortoise, three rescue dogs, and a betta fish. You might think she has a lot on her plate, but it just gives her more to talk about.
“I feel that I’m kind of fun to talk to and be with. I can pick any subject on anything!” said Ms. Bennett.
With her many careers and love for people and conversation, Ms. Bennett hopes to bring her experience to bare in her latest venture “Where to?”
“Where to?” is a unique transportation service that Ms. Bennett has created to provide an extra level of companionship and fun to the ride sharing experience.
“What I am is I am a private Uber. I am a companion,” said Ms. Bennett. “Consider me an escort service without the ooh la la.”
For $35 at a minimum of two hours, Ms. Bennett will pick you up in her Mini-Cooper and take you anywhere you want, whether it’s an appointment, errands, or simply a trip to the zoo.
“I’m open to anything. It could be a mother saying, ‘Could you pick up these three kids and get them pizza and take them to soccer then bring them home.’ Anything works for me,” said Ms. Bennett.
Ms. Bennett is available seven days a week to take clients to lunch, the movies or a concert, the airport, doctors appointments, even half-day trips to Solvang. She has a clean driving record, has had two background checks, and is certified in CPR, Ms. Bennett told the News-Press.
Ms. Bennett is up for anything as long as clients want some great company as they go about their day. She wants to be an alternative to services like Uber and Lyft, which she finds impersonal.
“All these places can take you to an appointment and then leave. I want to take you to that appointment or that rehab or no appointment and take you to the grocery store. Then would you like to go to the zoo? Want to take a walk on the beach? How about coffee?” said Ms. Bennett.
“It’s ‘Come talk to me and don’t sit in the back.’ Let’s hang out!”
Currently, Ms. Bennett also runs a soup delivery service called Just One Soup; serves as a substance abuse counselor at her business Family Recovery Solutions; and has brought dressage to Santa Ynez with her On the Bit Dressage Schooling shows.
“My businesses are all different but I have room in my life for all of them,” said Ms. Bennett.
Ms. Bennett was inspired to add “Where To?” to her impressive list of projects through a friendship she had with a woman from Casa Dorinda.
The woman was 86 from Newport, RI, and needed rides to appointments around town like hairdressing. The family was out of town and couldn’t find someone to help, so Ms. Bennett offered her services.
“Two or three times a week I would not only take her to the beauty parlor, but we would always have lunch first. She would come out beautifully dressed and very put together. We went to some lovely restaurants for lunch that she would never have gone to,” said Ms. Bennett.
The two made trips to Hendry’s Boathouse, the movies, the beach, even all the way to Ostrichland.
Eventually, Ms. Bennett’s friend had to get a pacemaker, and was not able to leave the house as often as she did.
Ms. Bennett was sad to end their fun, but she realized there might be a niche for a service somewhere between a taxi and a caregiver.
“That’s the key. That’s the difference between the caregiver, in my opinion, and a companion giver. I don’t give meds, I don’t wear a uniform, I don’t have a nametag, I don’t work for a care or hospice service of caregivers,” said Ms. Bennett.
Ms. Bennett has had experience with caregiving, where the hours are long, intensity is high, and the pay is low. Now, she just wants to give people a little company.
“I like people and I would love to participate. As I say, I feel that there’s a gap between the caregiver coming in and Carole coming in and saying, ‘Ok, it’s a beautiful day. Let’s just take a ride to Gaviotta! Let’s just sit at the rest stop and have a picnic lunch and drive back,’” said Ms. Bennett.
There are some things that Ms. Bennett can’t accommodate. She’s limited to the Santa Barbara area, and does not have the equipment for wheelchairs. Nevertheless, she’s open to anything.
“I would certainly work hard to make anything work,” said Ms. Bennett.
To get the word out, Ms. Bennett has offered a free two hours to any fundraisers in town.
“I’m hoofing it myself to knock on doors and say please try it out,” said Ms. Bennett.
She’s not sure there’s a place for “Where To?” in Santa Barbara, but she’s willing to find out.
“Maybe it’s a good idea, maybe it’s not a good idea. Everyone seems to think it’s a good idea, but maybe everybody’s got their own people. I’ll never know until I try!”