ERIE COUNTY CHARITY CALENDAR TAKES OFF

All smiles, no clothes, in senior citizens photo calendar

Seniors age 60 to 95 ‘strip’ to raise funds for dental care

8/10/2013
BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The March, 2013, page from the Sandusky nonprofit’s Serving Our Seniors calendar uses strategic props to keep the charity work suggestive, but not scandalous. The group is working on a 2014 calendar to raise money for a program to help needy seniors pay for dentures and other dental care.
The March, 2013, page from the Sandusky nonprofit’s Serving Our Seniors calendar uses strategic props to keep the charity work suggestive, but not scandalous. The group is working on a 2014 calendar to raise money for a program to help needy seniors pay for dentures and other dental care.

SANDUSKY — A calendar featuring photos of senior citizens wearing little more than big grins will raise money — and maybe a few eyebrows — for dental services for older Erie County adults.

About 16 area men and women, whose ages range from about 60 to 95, agreed to model for the 2014 pictorial calendar “Smiles,” available for sale Oct. 1.

The all-in-good-fun and for-a-good-cause effort is a follow-up to a 2013 calendar that brought in $3,300 for the Sandusky nonprofit Serving Our Seniors to pay for dental care not covered by Medicare.

Each month showcases a model or group of models in suggestive, but not quite scandalous, poses — with carefully positioned props covering the critical bits.

Photographer Melissa Lamb of Milan, Ohio, volunteered to shoot the images and plans to finish composing each month’s scene by the end of August.

The on-set atmosphere is fun, she said, and models willingly strip off much of their clothing for the camera.

“I don’t even have to beg. They are phenomenal — everybody is so willing,” she said. “They are so outgoing, and the things that come out of their mouths you would not believe.”

Sue Daugherty, executive director of Serving Our Seniors, was inspired to make a charity calendar after seeing the comedy film Calendar Girls, which starred Helen Mirren in a tale about ladies of a certain age who create a risqué calendar for a fund-raiser. The Sandusky agency’s board — after “a healthy debate” — agreed to the concept.

The July page in the 2013 Serving Our Seniors calendar draws on holiday themes. The calendar brought in $3,300 and the group is hoping for profits of $8,000 from its 2014 offering.
The July page in the 2013 Serving Our Seniors calendar draws on holiday themes. The calendar brought in $3,300 and the group is hoping for profits of $8,000 from its 2014 offering.

“For our community it was a pretty extreme idea,” she said. “We made sure that it was tastefully [done], and it’s not a nudie calendar like Playboy.”

The success of the 2013 calendar, shot by Diane Alexander of Alexander Photography Studios, led to the creation of a sequel. Ms. Daugherty hopes to make $8,000 from next year’s calendar, to be sold for $10 each.

Proceeds will benefit dental care for needy Erie County residents age 60 and older. The program has a list of about 80 people who have requested help to get dentures or dental care. The program covers up to $500 per eligible person.

Each calendar picture corresponds with a theme for that month.

The 2014 calendar will feature a Valentine’s Day photo taken at Tre Sorelle Cioccolato, a Sandusky chocolate shop. Jan Beck, one of the store’s owners, said the shop agreed to lend its location after seeing the first calendar.

“It was very tastefully done and a neat way to raise money,” she said.

The photographer and models used candy displays and tote bags — strategically positioned, of course.

Several women who bared some skin in the 2013 calendar said they enjoyed the experience and liked the finished product.

Nancy Rodriguez, 76, of Sandusky posed in a Christmas box — a photo seen by dozens of family and friends.

“Most of them thought it was absolutely fabulous. They said, ‘Go, grandma,’” she said.

Ninety-year-old Virginia Duff, also of Sandusky, stood behind two big hearts edged with silver spangles for the February, 2013, page.

She’s a volunteer for the agency and previously served on its board.

“I was really surprised at how it was so well-liked in the community,” she said. “Everybody was thrilled.”

There was no shortage, either, of eager models for the upcoming calendar, some of whom were selected during a casting call.

Frankie Byrd, 73, of Sandusky didn’t think twice when she was asked to pose for the inaugural edition.

“I am a ham, darling. I jumped right on it,” she said.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6056, or on Twitter @vanmccray.