For the fun of it

  • Photo contributed by Dale Rosenfeld

    Helena Cooney and Rayne Regush pose for a photo during Cooney’s birthday party. The ladies wish to start a Red Hat Society sorority on the island.

It’s all about having a good time.

It’s a place for women to gather, to play and to connect, a place for support and a place to show off silly extravagance. It’s The Red Hat Society, and a group of ladies is working to bring it back to Kauai.

“We’re still learning a lot about it, but it’s such a fun idea,” said Dale Rosenfeld, who lives in Wailua Homesteads.

The idea sparked at the birthday party for Helena Cooney, who is active in community organizations like the Kiwanis Club and Mokihana Club and is a cashier at Safeway in Kapaa.

“We played bingo and the winners were able to pick prizes from a table of things that related to Helena’s life,” Rosenfeld said. “On the table was this big, red hat.”

Rayne Regush, of Kapahi, ended up winning the hat and becoming the “poster child” for the idea of starting up a Kauai chapter of The Red Hat Society. A photo of her in the hat with Cooney is on social media.

The ladies at the birthday party knew enough about the organization to piece together a general idea of the organization’s mission and decided to start looking into starting one of their own in Kapaa.

“I don’t know anything about it and had to do a little bit of research just to know what it was,” Regush said.

Founded in 1998, The Red Hat Society is an organization that was originally only for women age 50 and above and now is open to women of all ages. The society’s mission includes “promoting fun, friendship, freedom from stereotypes, and fulfillment of goals and dreams.”

Members gather in local chapters for lunches or to attend the theater, or work on projects together. Members aged 50 or above wear red hats and purple attire to functions, and women under the age of 50 wear pink hats and lavender attire. The member elected leader of The Red Hat Society chapter is dubbed “Queen.”

The movement is inspired by a poem from Jenny Joseph, entitled “Warning,” which encourages women to grow old playfully.

Currently, there are 24 chapters of The Red Hat Society in Hawaii, though none active on Kauai.

“There was an islandwide movement 13 years ago, mainly on the South Shore,” Cooney said. “They put on a huge deal. (They did) so much work that they all quit.”

That’s not the kind of chapter Cooney and the ladies want to start in Kapaa. They’re looking to get together with other women just to spend time and take a break from their involvement in all of the fundraisers and community events, work and family life.

“I’d like to do something where we do nothing except go to lunch once or twice a month,” Cooney said.

Anyone interested in joining these ladies in forming a chapter of The Red Hat Society can reach out to Cooney at helenacooney808@aol.com or to Rosenfeld at 639-0283.

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Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

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