The Ladies in Red
Red Hat Society Fosters Friendships and Community Involvement
Photographer / Tabitha Dillner
The Red Hat Society has been encouraging and embracing women across the globe since 1998. Founded by Sue Ellen Cooper, the social club has approximately 20,000 chapters in the U.S., and more than 30 international chapters.
In 2004 Janice Davis and a friend were watching an annual parade, when a float full of smiling women dressed in red hats and purple attire cruised through the procession.
Upon being informed by her friend that the individuals were Red Hat ladies, Davis was intrigued. She went home, looked up information on the Red Hat Society and immediately knew she wanted to be a part of the organization. That was the day she signed up to be a queen.
The Red Hat Society offers two types of memberships – a supporting member and a queen. Both types of memberships share many of the same benefits. However, a queen membership has a few added perks. When a lady signs up as a queen, she creates, names and leads a chapter group, and hosts that chapter’s events.
Davis is the queen of the northern Indiana chapter, named Angels in Red, and a Facebook chapter called SunShine Gals.
“Anyone can be a queen of a chapter, but without a group of caring, compassionate, giving, fun-loving, considerate ladies, a chapter would not survive the test of time,” Davis says. “I feel each one of the ladies in the chapter is a queen in her own way.”
The Angels in Red chapter has around 50 members and will celebrate its sixteenth year of fun and friendship in September.
“I feel there are angels all around us, watching over us and protecting us,” Davis says regarding why she chose the name Angels in Red for the chapter.
The purpose of the Red Hat Society is to build women up, and to connect them emotionally and socially through fun, friendship and sisterhood.
“It does a lot for women,” Davis says.
Many women have spent most of their lives working and being committed to their families, and may not have had the opportunity to be part of a group of supportive, like-minded women. The Red Hat Society is an outlet for women to find fulfillment, discover new friendships and interests, and have fun doing it no matter what their age may be.
“We may be gray, but we don’t feel that way when the red hat goes on,” Davis says.
The Angels in Red meet once per month to bond, share laughs and support the community. Food is served, fun is had, raffles are won and donations are collected to support a selected charity.
Over the years Angels in Red has supported numerous causes including animal shelters, humane societies, Heminger House in Plymouth, a domestic violence refuge for women, Bella Vita Pregnancy Center in Knox, and more. The group has also provided care packages for cancer patients going through chemotherapy.
Members have multiple travel opportunities, and can participate in various outings, parades and conventions.
“You can do as much or as little as you’d like as a member,” Davis says. “It’s up to you and your personal comfort level.”
Several years ago Davis was selected as a Red Hat Society ambassador.
“One of my favorite functions as an ambassador of the Red Hat Society is being an encourager,” she says. “I try to apply that to every aspect of my life.”
One way Davis encourages others is through a second chapter she formed on Facebook called SunShine Gals. The chapter is nearing its fifth anniversary, and was formed as a nurturing online environment for Red Hat Society ladies. The popular group has 1,800 members and is rapidly growing.
Originally, the Red Hat Society was only open to women aged 50 and up. It is now open to any woman of any age. Women under the age of 50 who join are called Pink Hatters, and wear pink hats and lavender attire.
The Red Hat Society allows women to take time for themselves, and build the kind of bonds their busy lives may not have allowed before joining.
For more information on becoming a Red Hat Society member, visit redhatsociety.com, and contact Davis at 574-249-0529 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.