From Hat Life, News and Views on Hat Wear, www.hatlife.com.
Moultrie News, a division of The Post and Courier
The Hat Ladies at Edgar Allen Poe Fundraiser
Beverly Craven, Jeanie Heath, Mary Catsimatides, Liz Franchini, Stephanie Wilson, Deborah Getter, and Archie Burkel are pictured outside Ft. Moultrie (where Edgar Allen Poe was stationed) helping at the Creative Spark fundraiser, using the writer's works as its theme
Cover2Covermag.com by Ieesha Walker
Not Just Your Ordinary Hat
Would you believe that something as simple as wearing a hat can represent more than jsut an accessory to your clothing? The women of Hat Ladies wear their hats in representation of supporting their community, their compassion for people and of course, sisterhood.
Top Hat, Archie Burkel, bestowed upon Charleston her passion for fashion and compassion 12 years ago. Originally from Chicago, where the weather is cold and rainy, wearing a hat most times was not unusual for Burkel. Moving here to Charleston with her husband didn't stop her normal routine of wearing them, so she continued. "The magic of a hat is that it causes people to talk to you," says Burkel, "and they say how they love my hat and the conversation begins from there."
Burkel knew she didn't want to sell or make hats, but felt that there was something that she needed to do with the hats. With the encouragement from her husband, Burkel began taking the names and email address of the women she came in contact with. Gathering for what she thought would be just tea with a group of women she didn't know, quickly evolved into what is described today as a stylish brigade of volunteers who are making a difference, the Hat Ladies.
Along with making a difference, they make smiles, they bring about happiness, and true dedication. "Our faces hurt from smiling so much," says Burkel. They have worked with multiple organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Walks for Autism, Race for The Cure, The Kidney Foundation, The Footlight Players, and many more. Hat Ladies do monthly visits to assisted living facilities and MUSC Children's Hospital. With previous experience in running an award program in Chicago as she worked as a Guidance Counselor, Burkel was very excited to establish a scholarship program at Garrett Academy.
What distinguishes Hat Ladies from ay other hat organization is that Hat Ladies wear hats of all colors and are ladies of all ages. Whether they're wearing their stylish hats or their hard hats, Hat Ladies takes along their motto of "When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you do good."
For more information on Archie Burkel and the Hat Ladies, visit www.hatladies.org.
Post and Courier
Hat Ladies Dress to Impress While Helping Community by Jessica Johnson
Archie Burkel, an Illinois native, says she pulled a women's service group out of a hat, and she means that literally.
Burkel of James Island, Top Hat of the Charleston Hat Ladies, started the group simply by wearing hats. "When I wear a hat, people talk to me," Burkel says. They interrupt her while pumping gas to say, "Hey, lady, I love your hat," she says.
Burkel moved to the Charleston area from Atlanta with her husband in the mid-1990's. They had visited Charleston while her husband prepared for the 1996 Olympics and decided that, when his job ended, they would make Charleston their new home.
The retired English teacher and guidance counselor knew no one, but when she wore hats that attracted attention. "People talk to you. People open up to you," Burkel says.
She attracted women who liked the same things: wearing hats of many colors, dressing up, and helping others. The Charleston Hat Ladies officially formed in September 2001. Today, the organization is 200 members strong, drawing hat ladies ages 13-88 from across the Lowcountry. Their motto is to do good and look good doing it. For the most part, they assist nonprofit groups, but the family of one hat woman allowed them to start an independent project. When Hazel France of Hanahan died of cancer in April, her family auctioned her hat collection, raising enough money to create a scholarship in the Hat Ladies' name.
At a Hat Ladies luncheon at the Garrett Academy of Technology in North Charleston last week, Burkel said each woman in the room, dining on a meal prepared by the school's culinary arts department, smiles at herself in the mirror before leaving her house, and it was the hat that did it.
Burkel says she chose a cream-colored hat with a white box and pheasant feathers covered in rhinestones and wore a suit to match. Burkel says it's fashion with compassion. "Wearing a hat has become the most meaningful thing I have ever done," Burkel says.