Sometimes less is more. In the case of 11 female residents of the Greenspring Retirement Community, Springfield, Virginia, shedding their clothes for a charity calendar is helping fill the coffers of Greenspring's Benevolent Care Fund. These feisty females came up with the idea after watching the 2003 movie Calendar Girls, starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. They saw it as a way to contribute the $15 cost-per-calendar to the Greenspring Benevolent Care Fund set up to support residents who, despite careful planning, outlive their financial resources. The fund enables residents to remain at Greenspring knowing they will receive care.
A core group of three residents, shrouded in secrecy, recruited 17 people from Greenspring to make it all happen, including all of the models, as well as the photographer, set designer, and makeup artist. I can honestly say I didn't know who was involved in this project until it was unveiled in December. They all wanted to remain anonymous until then.
We had an unveiling of the calendar in December, complete with a screening of Calendar Girls. The Greenspring models were available for autographs. The ladies had so much fun. It was important for them to get involved, raise some money for Benevolent Care and to show everyone that life doesn't stop just because you get older. They're also really hoping to inspire the men of Greenspring to put together a 2009 calendar.
Props such as clothes on a clothesline, a big hat, and guitar were the only things strategically positioned between model and viewer. One model's daughter dropped off a pair of black fishnet stockings and told her mom if she was going to pose, then she “might as well do it right!”
Mrs. July, 72, says she has always been uninhibited. “I can't wait to think of my six grandchildren seeing their grandmother in only flip-flops and a beach hat,” she says. Mrs. August, meanwhile, is foreign-born and worked with the CIA before retiring. She has lived at Greenspring the past five years. On the calendar, she is proudly leading a community sing-along with only a guitar covering her 83-year-old assets.
Why subject themselves to such scrutiny? The ladies say it was a way to celebrate life at Greenspring and to share their time and creativity; also to create laughter and smiles.
“We're not young chicks,” Mrs. October says. “We're elderly women and when I was young I would never have been a calendar girl. But we're part of the Benevolent Fund, too, and our goal is to sell 1,000 calendars.”
Freda Burner, one of the ladies who posed for the calendar, says the Benevolent Fund helps ease residents’ minds of unforeseen expenses in the future. “We (all) thought we had saved enough and would be able to do anything we wanted to do in our retirement years,” she says. “Most of us may never need the Benevolent Care Fund, but we do not know what is in our future. A serious illness or a drastic change in our finances could occur changing all of our well-thought-out plans. This could happen to any of us. How thankful I am that the Benevolent Care Fund is there for me and members of my ‘Greenspring family.’”