By Cynthia Mindell
WORCESTER – Sometimes the most creative ideas come from the most unlikely sources. It was a (tasteful) photograph of a group of naked men in church pews that inspired Barbara Patashnik in her quest for a fund-raiser for the Greater Worcester Chapter of Hadassah.
“While visiting my niece, I noticed a calendar on her refrigerator that seemed a bit strange,” Patashnik says. “The cover was a picture of men sitting in church pews wearing what appeared to be only neckties. My nephew explained that it was a fund-raising project from a Unitarian Church in Framingham; the photographer is a friend of his and the project was quite successful. That’s when the light-bulb went off.”
Patashnik was also inspired by “Calendar Girls,” the 2003 film based on the true story of a group of women in Yorkshire, England who produced a nude calendar to raise money for leukemia research in 1999.
Patashnik formed a fundraising committee and consulted with Lynne Damianos, a Framingham, Mass.-based photographer who has produced several calendars.
Twelve Worcester Hadassah members, aged 27 to 92, agreed to model. Each was matched with a location that conveyed something about her vocational, volunteer, or avocational life. The photo for each month is accompanied by a biographical sketch of the model and an inspirational quote of her choosing. (Patashnik herself did not model, but the back of her head is included in the salon-themed photo of Miss April, a beautician.)
Worcester native Tobe Richmond, 71, jumped at the chance to model. “You have to be a certain type of individual who will do this,” says the life member. “But I love Hadassah. I became involved when I first got married and my kids were little. I’ve been a member for years, I got my daughter and granddaughter life memberships.”
Long active in the local Jewish community, Richmond was most recently involved for nearly a decade with Jewish Health Care Center in Worcester (formerly Jewish Home for the Aged), where she raised $250,000 and served as president of the auxiliary before becoming president of the organization, one of only two women to hold the position.
This year, facing a “little lull” in her Jewish communal engagement, Richmond was looking for a way to reconnect more actively with Hadassah when Patashnik told her about the calendar project. Richmond posed on a warm September day in a neck-high stack of tires in front of Martin Tire, a family business she co-owns with her husband.
Throughout the production process, the calendar was kept top-secret, Patashnik says; even the models didn’t meet one another until the kick-off celebration in late October. To stir interest, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette published an enigmatic teaser about an unusual fundraising effort about to be launched in the community.
The event drew more than 100 people, all of whom purchased calendars. Since then, sales have been brisk. “We are all working so hard to make this endeavor a success,” Patashnik says. “It will be so wonderful to present Hadassah Hospital with a huge check. In the spirit of our founder, Henrietta Szold, we present this calendar as a testament to women of accomplishment and success in their respective professions. The members of Greater Worcester Hadassah took the risk and dreamed big.”
“It’s all been positive,” Richmond says of the reactions she gets. “I was at a funeral the other day and people came up to me saying, ‘Hey, calendar girl!’ People who don’t even know about Hadassah are buying the calendar at our store, and I get to educate them and raise money for a great cause.”
To purchase the calendar visit: www.etsy.com; search term, worcesterhadassah; or firstname.lastname@example.org