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Model citizens

Ashby Ponds creates calendar for charity funds

Created date

December 20th, 2011

For community members at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., raising money for charity is as easy as saying, Cheese! While brainstorming ways to fund-raise for the community s care fund, Philanthropy Committee Chair Natalie Margiotta and committee member Mary Terry began discussing the movie Calendar Girls. The 2003 movie staring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters is based on the true story of a group of British women who produce a nude calendar to raise money for Leukemia research. We thought, You know, that s something we could do here at Ashby Ponds, Mary says. And the journey began.

Model search

While conceptualizing the calendar, Mary and Natalie decided that each month would feature an Ashby Ponds club or activity. In order to make the calendar a reality, they needed 12 willing groups. We started planning in January with the hopes of finishing the calendar by the end of the year, says Natalie. It was important to us that the calendar feature both men and women in a variety of different campus activities. First, we began contacting each of the clubs on campus and spreading the word at happy hours and dinners, says Mary. I was very excited to take part in the project, says Dottie Kraft, who appears twice in the calendar in March, St. Patrick s Day style, alongside Natalie and Mary, and again in April with her fellow Ashby Ponds librarians. The most challenging part was finding a way of looking unclothed without really removing our clothes. We had to get creative. Once campus clubs committed to the project, they began planning details such as costumes, location, and cover-ups. All models were completely clothed but were creatively costumed to appear otherwise.

Down to the nitty gritty

Getting people to agree to be photographed was easier than scheduling a time when all participants were available. Everyone at Ashby Ponds has such busy schedules that it was difficult scheduling a time when everyone in the photo was available, says Natalie. Some photos were scheduled for outdoors so we also had to work with the weather. You wouldn t believe it, but March s happy hour bar scene took 401 shots to capture, says Dottie. Yet April s library scene took only seven minutes. Ultimately, the whole community pitched in. Community Resource Manager Joe Barrows was his usual wonderful self, says Natalie. In addition to being photographer, he ordered and created props to be used in the photographs. The general services staff was also fabulous, agreeing to move furniture, take pictures off walls, redecorate with our backdrops, and provide props. When I was approached with this project, I was 100% on board and excited about it, says Barrows. I thought the project would be a great way to get community members involved with supporting a great cause while showcasing our community and having fun.

The big reveal

Last November, just in time for the holidays, the committee completed the calendar. They held a special celebration to reveal the calendar to the entire community. We didn t know what our photos looked like until the calendar was in our hands, says Gertrude Simmons, who appears in February s bridge club photo. I laughed so hard when I saw the finished project. You could certainly tell that everyone enjoyed themselves in the making of the calendar. The whole calendar is very tastefully done, says Gayna Dunsmore, who appears in May s Ashby Ponds Players photo and in December with the Songbirds. We were all willing to have fun for such a good cause. Sue Vitale, featured in July s tribute to the Ladies Who Do Nothing club, says she thoroughly enjoyed the hour it took to create their image, but maybe not quite as much as her husband Bill. It was hilarious watching everyone prepare for and create the shot, Bill says. And now we have a very nice gift to give to our daughter and two grandchildren in college, says Sue. For once I don t need to worry that I m giving them a gift they already have.