Finding sisterhood: Red Hat Society Mecosta Senior Center Chapter brings women together through laughter and support

Featured in this photo is JoAnne Gibbons, Jeanne Hanson, Valerie Bennett, Queen Mother Joyce Cooker, Elizabeth Lawrence and Sue Sheehan. The Red Hat Society is “a playgroup for women created to connect like-minded women, make new friends and enrich lives through the power of fun and friendship,” according to the official Red Hat Society website. Members who have attained the age of 50 wear red hats and purple clothing, while those under 50 wear pink hats and lavender clothing. (Pioneer photo/Alicia Jaimes)

MECOSTA COUNTY — While some worry about aging, the Red Hat Society Mecosta Senior Center Chapter embraces their next phase in life, as they find new friends and a stable support group.
Beginning in 1998, the Red Hat Society was founded by Sue Ellen Cooper and was officially known for being “the world’s premier social networking community.” Since then, there have been queens and members who have built different chapters in any given town, connecting women from all walks of life and with varied interests.

“We have fun and treat each other nicely. We get together to have a few chuckles, and to find out how everybody’s doing,” JoAnne Gibbons, senior center chapter member, said.

Known for their red hats, the Red Hat Society is open to any woman. Those who have attained the age of 50 wear red hats and purple clothing, while those under 50 wear pink hats and lavender clothing.

The society has roughly 20,000 chapters in all 50 states in the U.S. and more than 30 foreign countries — with one chapter meeting at the Mecosta County Commission on Aging.

“When we first started, we had canes and decorated them red and white, but it’s been a long time since we’ve done that,” Jeanne Hanson said.

Originally named as the “Raising Cane” chapter, Hanson joined the senior center chapter after their first initial meeting, and has been a part of the organization ever since.

During meetings, members have a chance to catch up, celebrate birthdays and go on trips planned by Queen Mother Joyce Cooker.

“Joyce takes care of us, does all the calling and makes arrangements for trips,” Gibbons said.

Cooker has planned a variety of trips for the women over the years, including a trip to Turkeyville, Dow Gardens, Frederik Meijer Gardens and Frankenmuth.

“We’re a group that likes to go out and take trips,” Hanson said.

As well as bigger day trips, the chapter enjoys going out to dinner, seeing plays and visiting local pumpkin/apple farms during the fall.

“I’ve loved it, it’s been a good time, the ladies are all so nice,” Sue Sheehan said. “I think it’s a wonderful organization.”
Sheehan is the newest member of the senior center center, saying she just showed up one day and was welcomed with open arms.

Sheehan also said the organization is a great way for a group of women to come together, cheer each other on during happy times and support one another during the hard times.

“We all have stress in our lives, so it’s nice to come here and put that stress behind us or to share and talk about it,” Elizabeth Lawrence, senior center chapter member, said.

The Red Hat Society Mecosta Senior Center Chapter meets at 10 a.m., the second Wednesday of every month, at the Mecosta County Commission on Aging. The meeting lasts for about an hour and usually ends in lunch.

No dues currently are needed to join the group.

Women interested in joining the Red Hat Society Mecosta Senior Center Chapter can call Cooker at (231) 867-3724 and ask to visit a meeting and see what it’s all about.

Leave a Reply