By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Harbour Point women sew hats for cancer patients
Nancy Hunter, from left, Sharon King, Gail Seely, Annie Davis and Maureen Oliaro laugh while they sew turbans on Thursday at the Harbour Point Yacht Club in Gainesville. Each monthly meeting produces about 40 turbans, and so far the group has made more than 600. - photo by SARA GUEVARA


Susan White of Harbour Point Yacht Club talks about how she and other neighborhood residents began sewing turbans for patients to wear while undergoing cancer treatment.

Stylists learn to help cancer patients "Look Good ... Feel Better:" Program aims to mitigate the effects cancer treatments can have on a patient's appearance.

Know someone who might need a turban?
For anyone interested in getting the free turbans, visit the clubhouse at Harbour Point Yacht Club on Dawsonville Highway in West Hall. Contact: 770-536-9948.

The West Hall women gather on the morning of the first Thursday of each month to talk, laugh and enjoy each other's company around pastries and coffee.

But this is no ordinary social club.

The Sew Soul Sisters gather in the clubhouse at Harbour Point Yacht Club for a serious purpose - to sew turbans for women who have lost their hair during their battle with cancer.

The group is made up of residents of the posh neighborhood, and it's headed by Susan White.

White said she was reading a newspaper article about Marjorie Kinney, a Stone Mountain resident who had talked her Sunday school class into making turbans, when she was inspired to do the same thing for Hall County-area women.

"My mother died from inflammatory breast cancer, and she lived with me," White said. "When she had cancer, she (wore) a wig, and she always thought it was so hot, she couldn't stand it."

Her mother wore a scarf around her head, but that didn't work so well either. Her head would get cold at night.

"A lot of women can't afford a wig either," White said, adding that the seamless knit hats slip easily over the head.

She called Kinney, herself motivated by an article about a turban-making enterprise in Florida.

"She's just delightful," White said of Kinney. "She sent me the pattern and instructions."

White gathered together eight women on May 3, 2007, for the first sewing session. To date, 30 Harbour Point women have participated in the effort, making about 600 turbans.

They make about 40 turbans at each of their meetings.

The hats come in different designs and colors.

"We make them really pretty. We embellish them with buttons and different things," White said.

Current hats feature a holiday theme.

The group does all the preparation work at home, including cutting materials.

"Everything is done except for the hand sewing," White said.

One of the women, Peggy Barbaris, distributes them every Monday at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where she has worked as a volunteer for about six years.

"The nurses give them to the patients," Barbaris said. "... They've been well received, and it's just a nice feeling to be able to do this for people."

The group also takes them to the Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic at the Guilford Clinic.

"We've gotten a lot of nice thank-you notes from people who say they really love them and (the hats) are very comfortable," White said.

She recalled one note from a woman who had said "she was really feeling down that day and then she got to go shopping in our turban basket, and that lifted her spirits."

The group plans to put a basket of turbans at the Harbour Point clubhouse. The hats are available to anyone in the community, not just residents, White said.

"All they have to do is ask the receptionist, and she'll direct them to the basket," she added. "There have been several ladies here who have worked on turbans and given them to people they know who have cancer."

None of the women sewing have cancer, although "we have some cancer survivors," White said.

One of the sewers, Martha Burkhalter, said she had a good friend die of breast cancer.

"This is a good way to give back," she said.

Plus, the time together provides a good social outlet.

The women talk about "grandchildren, friends, world events, neighborhood events," Burkhalter said. "They need to put us on the cabinet in (Washington) D.C."

Cancer struck close to home last year for one of the members, Maureen Oliaro, when her 30-year-old son was diagnosed with the disease.

"I do as much as I can for him, but it comes to a point where I can't do anymore," she said. "This way, I feel like I can help some."