After her two sisters died of breast cancer, Barbara Hensley, of Shakopee, Minn., took two radical steps. She had a preventative double mastectomy and later quit her job to help others with the disease.
Today Mrs. Hensley, 57, operates the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer, an upscale thrift store in Wayzata, Minn., that contributed more than $55,000 last year to the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation she also runs. The nonprofit funds breast-cancer research, programs and services. She expects to open a second store this year in the Minneapolis area and plans to franchise 50 Hope Chests that can contribute millions more.
She came upon the idea in tony Sanibel Island, Fla., when sprucing up her father’s condo there in 2001. She asked neighbors what to do with the old pillows and bedspreads. They sent her to a church that ran a thrift shop. “I walked in and nearly had a heart attack when I saw the [high] quality of the items for sale,” she says.