Dorianne Kohl with one of the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun calendars made by members of Tapestry Choir

Dorianne Kohl with one of the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun calendars made by members of Tapestry Choir

Girls having fun for a good cause

Tapestry Choir takes inspiration from the U.K.’s Calendar Girls fundrais for new digital mammography machine at VJH

What do you get when you put together a women’s choir, a concert theme, a visit to the mammography clinic at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and a talented photographer?

You get Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, a fundraising calendar featuring members of Tapestry Women’s Choir, in support of the new digital mammography machine for the hospital.

Last July, choir conductor Deborah Mehes had a very informative conversation with a technician at the clinic, explaining how desperately this new machine was needed in the community. As the leader of a dynamic ensemble of 40 women, she began to brainstorm how to harness all that “girl power” to do something creative to support the fundraising efforts, but had no clear idea what shape it might take.

Fast forward to September 2013 and the start of a new rehearsal season. Conductors are always thinking ahead, not just to the next concert, but sometimes a year or more in advance. As well, fundraising is nothing new for Tapestry.

“Giving each concert a theme helps considerably to focus musical and artistic choices,” said Mehes. “A performance based on months of the year offered a great scope for song choices and naturally brought the song Calendar Girls to mind, which then led to thinking of the great movie of the same name, a true story about another dynamic group of women. Could Tapestry possibly create a calendar, as had those feisty gals from Yorkshire?”

Mehes brought two copies of the film for everyone to watch and get a feel for the project.

She said sometimes the stars just align when things are meant to be, and in this case it was the talent and new business venture of choir member Amy Bell, who had just launched Cherry Kiss Pin Up Photography.

“She brought samples of her work to a rehearsal one night and the pieces all just clicked,” said Mehes. “Amy’s work is fun, flirty and makes women look fabulous, bringing to mind the golden era of  ‘50s pin- up photography.

“Here was the perfect project for Tapestry, to truly become ‘Calendar Girls and create our very own calendar for a cause, a ‘work of heart.’”

From there, 20 brave members of the choir volunteered to become “Calendar Girls” and the fun began. Bell brought each “month” in separately and did complete hair, makeup and wardrobe for each photo shoot in her studio in Enderby. Lyn Fraser visited local businesses and solicited sponsorships for each calendar page. Lakeside Printing in Salmon Arm gave a great rate and technical support for the printing of the calendars and now the finished product is ready for release.

Using fun retro props at Bell’s Enderby photography studio, choir members posed with everything from enormous flowers to picnic baskets covered in giant plastic ants.

Longtime choir member Dorianne Kohl — August’s pin-up along with Fran Regnier — found herself reflecting upon the whole essence of the calendar project recently.

“It seems to me that throughout history, when a group of women gather together for a common purpose — such as quilting, sewing, making handicrafts — there is a comradeship and a joy in that unique creative, sharing process,” said Kohl, whose calendar month is also that of her birthday. “The women from Tapestry Choir who agreed to be photographed for the 2015 fundraising calendar, were required to abandon their insecurities, and trust that we were in good hands, with Amy Bell’s expertise in photography and style, and that the ultimate product would be produced in good taste.

“That the process turned out to be both fun, creative and exhilarating, was an added bonus. I believe that every woman photographed is not only pleased with the results, but proud to have been part of this unique project

“I have not had that kind of experience since I was modelling and it was so much fun: laughing and talking and sharing a big bottle of wine.”

Kohl said as the calendars are now being distributed for sale, Tapestry members feel a collective pride in the funds raised for the new digital mammography machine.

“It’s women working together to make a difference for our community’s health and well-being,” she said. “A new awareness of what can be achieved when we put fear aside, and step out of the shadows into the light.”

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun calendars sell for $18 a copy, with all profits donated to the purchase of a digital mammography machine at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. Look for your copy in the following locations: in Vernon at the VJH Gift Shop, the office of podiatrist Dr. Bruce Boothe and at Bra Heaven; in Armstrong at Armstrong Collision, The Brown Derby Cafe, Chocoliro, Country Comforts Esthetics, For Your Eyes Only Gift Gallery, Royal Lepage Realty, Shepherd’s Hardware Outdoor Living, and Your Dollar Store With More; in Enderby, at Enderby Auto Body, Hungry Jack’s Cafe, Key Team Realty, and Sticks and Stones Pottery (Mabel Lake).