Royal Red Hat Sabathanettes celebrate sisterhood and bonding

Local society chapter is 10 years strong and growing


By Dwight Hobbes
Contributing Writer


Royal Red Hat Sabathanettes' members Clara Tims and Allie Jacox Photo courtesy of Clara Tims
Royal Red Hat Sabathanettes’ members Clara Tims and Allie Jacox
Photo courtesy of Clara Tims

The Royal Red Hat Sabathanettes’ April 18 induction ceremony and celebration was a simple, yet elegant affair conducted with winning grace at Sabathani Community Center in South Minneapolis, with the characteristic lavender and crimson color scheme displayed in attire and reflected in table settings. Eleven new members were welcomed into the ranks.

“We love, cherish and care for each other, help each, support each other,” said a brightly smiling Clara Tims, who also goes by the nickname “Cake Lady” (she sells cakes and pies). It’s an elementary concept and a powerful one. Red Hat Society is a worldwide sisterhood whose principle purpose is as basic as it is profound — social interaction and bonding between women.

Queen Mamie Favor seconded the sentiment. “We’re there for one another. Friendship, fellowship, those are the main things that the Hatters have.”

The fairly sedate festivities hit a distinctly dynamic note when featured speaker Mary Jo Winston, Ph.D addressed the gathering with an animated, highly enthusiastic talk about the importance of making this kind of community connection. It’d be hard to find a more fitting individual for the occasion.

Dr. Winston has always been drawn to the fellowship of women who have the community’s good in mind, even as an adolescent. She reflects on how meaningful it was for her to get up and speak to the ladies.

“It made me think about how elders are always [influential] in the lives of young people. Every person needs an elder to be attached to, because of the wisdom, the resources, the knowledge about life.”

In her sharing with the group, she recounted how she was not the usual type of teenager growing up. Specifically, while the other girls were running around being cute and chasing the boys, young Mary Jo was keeping sage counsel.

“If you have an elder in your life, it’s always going to [provide] focus, direction. I got mine early. I saw how my aunt cared about me. It started when I was about five years old. It was a foundation. And, now, at 55, I still keep that connection to elders.”

To be sure, she wasn’t a perfect angel back then, and despite gravitating to the positive support of women with a wealth of experience, she made the exact same mistake that is a pervasive problem in Black communities: teen pregnancy. However, it didn’t curtail her life and cut off her future as it routinely does for girls. Winston drew strongly on that steadfast support to get through being a single, 16-year-old mom. And on top of that, go on to college.

She also is executive director at Bridges of Hope, dedicated, as the website attests, to “leadership training and education with tools to encourage and empower the human spirit to come alive and lead with resiliency, perseverance, integrity, dedication and responsibility.” All of which describes qualities that were extolled as community-strengthening traits throughout the brunch. Winston is not yet a member of the Red Hats Society but says, “I’m thinking about it.”

The local chapter was organized by Marionne Robbins, a member of the Sabathani Senior Center, and Georgia Omorean, director of the Sabathani Senior Center in 2004. Queen Mamie notes, “Our founder will turn 100 years young on July 4, 2014. We were blessed that she was able to participate in our 10th year celebration on March 21, 2014.

“The celebration was awesome with various community leaders in attendance.” A proclamation from Mayor Betsy Hodges was presented to the group by Andrea Jenkins, aide to City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden.

Julia Sewell, Rosa Bogart, and Naima Richmond were all a part of the event. “Each one gave positive messages to the group of approximately 100 people in attendance to help and support the celebration.

“We Red Hat seniors have more time now to do things we were not permitted to do when we were younger because we had the responsibilities of raising our families. The Royal Red Hat Sabathanettes have had as many as 102 members. Some of the members go to every event planned and enjoy the friendship and fellowship of our sisters.

“We have monthly planned events. One might find a group of Red Hatters going to the movies, theatre, taking bus trips, to Rochester, Duluth, and other cities in the area. We all wear our regalia proudly and enjoy the fellowship with one another,” the sort of fellowship for which the community can be most grateful.

If you’re interested in joining Royal Red Hat Sabathanettes or in starting a chapter, simply go to where you’ll find all the necessary details. In short, “The spirit of the Red Hat Society forbids rules, per se. You don’t have to limit your chapter to any particular size; you don’t have to meet on any particular day or do any proscribed activities. In short, you can come up with your own royal titles, your own fun traditions, and your own way of doing things within your chapter.

“There are, however, some common-sense guidelines that we must insist upon: Women of all ages are encouraged to take their royal place. Women over 50 wear red hats and purple clothing, while women under 50 wear pink and lavender until they ‘reduate.’ And, although we try not to concentrate on it too much, we do have some legalese you need to agree to in order to become a member. (Probably no more than any other group out there and unfortunately necessary.)

“Have fun. (Did we need to say it?) Plan fun events and go out with your chapter in your ensembles (also known as ‘full regalia’). And watch the magic that ensues!”


Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses toP.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403