By Jennifer L. Warren
NEW WINDSOR – As Paul Lockwood drove up to the Windsor Country Inn Nursing Home Thursday at noon, he was greeted by a jubilant group of about 20 women, each sporting bright purple and red outfits, topped off with distinct hats and holding up colorful, diligently crafted signs of gratitude while chanting, “Thank you!” The emotionally-charged image was one he will never forget.
“This makes the whole COVID-19 situation become more human, as there are so many times we feel forgotten here, but it is just so awesome to get this kind of recognition and appreciation,” said Lockwood, Operator of the New Windsor Country Inn Nursing Home, who along with his 30 plus member staff, has faced “some very dark times” over the last few months. “This is a huge boost, making us all feel so good and that what we do matters.”
That jumpstart Lockwood was referring to came from four local chapters of the recently turned 22 years young Red Hat Society, whose headquarters are based in California, and is made up of women over age 50 (Pink Hatters comprise those under 50), ones who enjoy sharing good times and making lasting differences in their communities. Whether it’s recognizing local unsung heroes or an organization, volunteering their time or simply being present for those in need, these spunky ladies are intent on spreading love and gratitude.
As the pandemic has continued to evolve and so many local people have made countless sacrifices, these Hudson Valley Red Hat Society chapters didn’t want those selfless, valiant efforts to go unnoticed.
“We wanted to do something for an agency that is helping with COVID, recognizing them and the very important work they are doing,” said seven year member Queen Terriciena A. Brown of the Ladies of Distinction as well as Dazzling Dames Chapter. “We wanted to show them we love them and are doing the work of God for them.”
That work came in the form of lunches as well as snacks. Day staff at New Windsor Country Inn enjoyed pizza, salad, soda and water, made and delivered by nearby Primo Pizza; while evening staff was treated to cookies, muffins and water. A similar scene played out on Friday in Poughkeepsie, where the energetic women, again clad in their group’s traditional colors, carried signs, along with plenty of cheer, appearing outside the Dutchess Assisted Living Center. Inside, day workers were provided with pizza, garlic knots and water for lunch from Poughkeepsie’s Bronx Pizza.
Chapters involved in each of the two events included; Ladies of Distinction from Dutchess County, as well as several others based in Orange County -Soulful Sisters, Chattie Hatties of the Hudson Valley and the Sophisticated Rubies- totaling about 50 women. This tally included Sister Cynthia from the Ladies of Distinction who was unable to make Thursday’s event; however was very much present in spirit and felt by all in attendance. For each one of the members, both supportive meal venues held a special place in their hearts, allowing them to show people who occupy the two priceless buildings just how amazing, needed and appreciated they and their work are.
“It has been my humbling experience to show love on behalf of my Red Hat Society to my Newburgh Community here today,” said Queen Valerie Ruffin of the Soulful Sisters.
Queen Rinnay Carney-Koutovan of the Sophisticated Rubies added, “We are just so happy to be here to celebrate all the hard work and dedication of these essential workers.”
That same sentiment was returned by the workers. Three stepped outside from the New Windsor Country Inn to wave and express their heartfelt gratitude to the Red Hatters prior to returning inside to enjoy lunch. Representative of a tight-knit group who has endured a valiant battle against this virus, the nursing home employees have persevered through incredible challenges on multiple levels, emerging tougher than they ever deemed possible.
“They have been amazing through all of this, pulling together and stepping up in so many ways,” said Lockwood about his strong, united staff family. “It’s the type of community support like this today, that helps make such a huge difference, letting us know people do really care, and it truly keeps us going.”