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Gary’s classy ladies in red hats

Cheryl SessQueen Red Velvet Ladies Chapter 4206 (front left) ArbeliBeCaruthers Queen Mother Classy Ladies United Chapter 6053 (front second from

Cheryl Sesson, Queen of Red Velvet Ladies Chapter 4206, (front, left) and Arbelia Bea Caruthers, Queen Mother of Classy Ladies United Chapter 6053, (front, second from left) talk as they gather for a group portrait during a celebration of local Red Hat Society members at City Hall in Gary, Ind. Thursday April 25, 2013. The Red Hat Society is an international social group for women with a number of local chapters. | Stephanie Dowell~Post-Tribune

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For Gary women in the city’s first Red Hat Society chapter, Arbelia Caruthers is “Queen Mother.”

The organization offers camaraderie and support to women over 50. Beyond that there are no guidelines, and some good-naturedly claim this “organization” of women dressed in bright reds and purples should be referred to as “disorganization.”

“The goal is to have clean fun and network with other chapters,” Caruthers said.

Gary Red Hat members gathered April 25 at City Hall to celebrate the society’s growth and accpomplishments.

The Red Hat Society supports women who have been balancing jobs, careers, car pools and family obligations. Its goal is to enjoy life, but Caruthers’ chapter, Classy Ladies United, believes that life cannot be truly enjoyed unless you are serving others.

The chapter has hosted dinners for the NAACP, helped high school teens with financial grants, sponsored clothes give-a-ways, and orchestrated programs that beautify neighborhoods.

Classy Ladies traveled to Washington to show political solidarity during President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

The organization took its name from a poem written by Jenny Joseph that starts with symbolic lines portraying the yearning to act in a whimsical and care-free manner: “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat ... and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens and learn to spit.”

Caruthers was owner of a business for 40 years called Bea’s Unisex Beauty Salon while raising a family of four.

After such a busy career and family life, she is grateful to have her Red Hat companions.

“It is a sisterhood, it is a good thing,” she said. “I don’t care where you go, if you are dressed in that red and purple, to me it is just beautiful.”

Gary resident and member Dawn Dennie praises Caruthers for introducing the Red Hat Society to Gary.

“There are no rules and no dues,” remarked Dennie. “It is about enjoying life in the later years.”

There are approximately seven chapters throughout Gary and Classy Ladies started their life on July 16, 2001.

For more information about the chapter, contact Dennie at 678-8120 or denniedawn@hotmail.com.



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