When staff asked the residents of the Youville Home in St-Albert if they would like to be models for a fundraising calendar for the home, the answer was resounding.
When staff asked the residents of the Youville Home in St-Albert if they would like to be models for a fundraising calendar for the home, the answer was resounding. The theme of the calendar, which they hope to make available this October, is Shining Stars and features re-enactments of characters from some of Hollywood's most enduring movies: Sister Act, Bonnie & Clyde, The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins. "The characters had to be from movies the residents would know because it's all about them," says Volunteer Co-ordinator Monica McFadden.
The Home is a bright, cheery residence with over 230 clients. Proceeds from calendar sales will go towards a project to transform their current auditorium into a new four-season greenhouse to be used for events, family meetings and garden. The team effort is helping keep costs down so that all of the proceeds from sales can go to the expansion project. Most of the clothing and props were donated. In each photo, memories of the silver screen were re-imagined and re-enacted by staff and residents. McFadden says it was important for residents to be themselves, even while they were in character. In some photos, residents are in wheelchairs or rest on walkers. Only two of the models wore wigs.
Dennis Cockwill is a soft spoken gentleman with a twinkle in his eye and an irrepressible smile who dressed up as a character from the 1970s film The Godfather. To get into character the makeup artist had to put a moustache on back on him "because mine is gone!" but he needed little encouragement to pull off a steely-eyed Mafioso stare.
Stephanie Tostowaryk, local portrait photographer of Toastography, donated her time, as did a local makeup artist. The photo shoot took place over several days and took about 12 hours in total. Staff took care to make sure participants were comfortable with their roles. The Sister Act photo included some of the home's real life nuns. Rather than switch into a black habit like in the movie, the sisters remained true to their Grey Nun colours by wearing taupe.
Penny Stiksma dressed up as Marilyn Monroe. "I was all dolled up," she says. "They did my lips and my eyebrows were done like hers. Oh, did I ever have lips! I tried to play the part and we had so much fun." Stiksma found the process physically demanding, but was still singing "happy birthday, Mr. President" during the interview.
The calendar committee is currently looking for a sponsor to help with printing costs. Once they get over that hurdle, they hope to make the calendars available at the Youville Home and at local Christmas craft fairs.