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SALTWATER PORTRAIT

BJ Young: Jersey girl brings Red Hat Society to Sussex

Royal Queen set to celebrate group’s 20th anniversary
April 17, 2018

Finding a moment when BJ Young is sitting still is impossible.

Since 2004, the Angola resident has worked full-steam to bring the Red Hat Society to the Cape Region. The group originated in California in 1998 when a group of women approaching their golden years wanted to celebrate their next phase in life.

"The society is about being with other women and enjoying their company," Young said. "You're with intelligent women, and you're sharing ideas. "
Members meet once a month to go to lunch, she said, or some other activity like going to a movie or bowling. Bright red hats and lavender outfits signify the vibrance left in their lives.


"At a point in a woman's life, she loses friends either because they move away or even die," she said. "The society gives them a way to reconnect with women who want to have a good time.”

A year before moving to Delaware, Young started her first Red Hat Society Chapter in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Young said she was already getting together with a group of friends every month when she came across the society.


"When I heard about it, I couldn't think of anything else that would be more fun," she said.
A self-proclaimed Jersey girl, Young grew up in Collingswood, N.J., vacationing along the Jersey shore when she had time off from her full-time job as a master hair designer with JCPenney in the Cherry Hill Mall. After 28 years with JCPenney, she retired with a pension – now an industry dinosaur. "I'm one of the few people who can say they have one," she says with a knowing chuckle.


As retirees, Young said, she and her husband, Charlie, decided to move to Delaware where their money could go farther.


"The taxes in New Jersey were going to kill me," she said. "We moved here just like everyone, for lower taxes.”

Having visited four times, she said, she had fallen in love with Lewes. 
"The first time, I came over on the ferry to see historic Lewes, and I thought, 'This would be a nice place to live,'" she said.


The couple decided on a cozy neighborhood in Angola about a mile from Indian River with a home that is easy to maintain and a manageable yard. She said she likes Angola because it is close to the beach, but not too close.


"As a Jersey girl, I know the devastation that storms can do to the coast," she said. "I knew I wanted to be near the water but not on the water. I didn't want to worry about every storm that comes up."


After moving to Delaware, Young again put her energy into the Red Hat Society, starting one chapter, and then a second. As more chapters formed, she became a Royal Queen, a position above Queen, which is given to a woman who forms a chapter.


She stepped down five years ago, but remains active with Red Hat Society groups Evening Primrose and an offshoot called the Pirates of Delaware Bay, where pirate attire prevails over the red hats and lavender outfits. "We meet as the wind blows," she said.


In addition to Red Hat Society gatherings, Young spreads her time among the Elks Club, Lewes Historical Society, Zwaanendael Women's Club, First Town Club and Beebe Auxiliary and a long list of other clubs.


Never one to sit still for long, Young has been busy putting together a 20th anniversary celebration of the original Red Hat Society. On April 25, she said, she expects 55 women to fill the Brick Hotel in Georgetown for a luncheon.


"I'm a professional volunteer, and I've been blessed to meet the people I've met," she said.