Front left to right: Helen Cary, Valerie Cadle, Hazel Heinze, Becky Hudson; back row: Jeanette Buettner and Lois Dunkle; not pictured: Doris Dake (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)
CULLMAN – Ms. Helen Cary of Cullman turned 77 on Aug. 27. Cary, who has recently undergone a hip surgery, just needed some girl time before undergoing a second surgery to repair her other hip. She planned a party at her home on Wednesday the 29th and as they always have, her dearest girlfriends came ready to laugh and have a good time. There was a special purpose of this party: the first official gathering of the Golden Dixie Chicks.
Imagine a little bit of Steel Magnolia, a dash of Ya-Ya Sisterhood and a smidge of Golden Girls and you have this group of strong, funny, smart and loyal Cullman ladies. Those in attendance at Cary’s house for the inaugural meeting of the Golden Dixie Chicks were: Lois Dunkle, Becky Hudson, Doris Dake, Valerie Cadle, Hazel Heinze and Jeanette Buettner. Each of these wonderful ladies is unique and adds an important layer to the group’s dynamic.
Cary explained, “I met most my best friends at St. Paul’s years ago. I just love them all and we try to get together as often as possible.”
Heinze followed that by saying, “Helen throws a party for every occasion,” to which Cary replied, “Well, it makes me clean my house!!”
Cadle said, “Unlike the others, I met Helen when she came to my door with an Auburn cake welcoming me to the neighborhood. I had my Auburn flag outside and that's all Helen needed to know. We have been soul sisters ever since.”
The ladies enjoyed the Amish crafted gazebo and swing as they sipped wine, told stories and playfully poked fun at each other. There was something special and exquisitely Southern about being in the presence of these women who value each other, embrace their differences and make it a point to be together often. For just a little while, the Golden Dixie Chicks erased the worry of an upcoming surgery, replaced sadness with laughter for one who recently lost a pet, and they let go of all the day’s stress. Nobody checked Facebook. Nobody stared at the phone. Nobody argued over politics. They participated and simply loved the moment.
When these ladies aren’t swinging on the back porch at Cary’s, they are busy giving back to Cullman. Cary is the director of Two Shoes, a nonprofit that provides new shoes to children and adults in need
Cary explained, “We get requests from Childhaven, DHR and other places for shoes. We find out what the age, gender and size is of the individual. We also find out the occasion. Do they need school shoes, work boots, dress shoes??”
Most of the money raised for Two Shoes comes during the Belk Charity Days event. If you are interested in learning more or donating, email email@example.com.
Heinze and Dunkle both serve on the CCC (Committee on Church Cooperation).
Heinze said, “We are a group of about 13 churches and we help around 500 families a year. We assist families with power bills, prescriptions, rent, other things. Most of the people we help are referred to us by Community Action or through DHR.”
Heinze is at Cullman DHR on Tuesdays and Thursdays to interview people and access their needs.
For those who might wish to donate to the CCC, their mailing address is PO Box 1542 Cullman, Alabama 35056.
As the first meeting of the Golden DIxie Chicks wrapped up, the ladies said their goodbyes and love yous. Dee Dee, Cary’s Russian Blue cat, seemed happy to have his selection of seating available again while Cary was already looking forward to next time.
She said, “As soon as I am recovered from this next surgery, we are going to PARTY!!!”
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