Area women bare it all to benefit Hospice

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The idea blossomed into “Calendar Girls,” a 2013 calendar that features photographs of local women who have an interest in helping Hospice. The photos, taken by Sault Ste. Marie photographer and artist Jude McConkey, show the women playing cards, working on a printing press, farming, riding horses and tractors, fishing, planning construction projects, enjoying Independence Day and more — all in various stages of undress.

The calendars, $10 each, are being sold now, with all proceeds going to Hospice House.

The calendar had its beginning when Hilary Galey, a physical therapist with War Memorial Hospital’s Rehabilitation Center and member of the Hospice board, brought back a similar calendar from her PEI trip and showed it to her fellow board members, including Hospice nurse Nancy Mongene.

“Hilary showed it to us at a board meeting, and after thinking on it a day or two, I thought, ‘I can do this!’” Mongene said.

The project is based on the 2003 movie “Calendar Girls,” which depicts the true story of how the Rylstone Women’s Institute in North Yorkshire, England, raised money for cancer research with a calendar that showed tasteful photographs of nude members of the institute.

Photographer McConkey says the Hospice calendar offers “the illusion” of nudity, and although there’s no question that the girls have bared it all for this worthy project, care was taken to make sure none of the photographs, or the subjects, were overexposed.

“It’s very tasteful, but funny, too,” said Mongene. “When we started to pull ideas together, I thought of a lot of people I had met in my home care nursing who I knew had just the spirit to pose for the pictures.”

Mongene said the women were great sports about the project. Most, if not all of them, had friends and family members who had needed hospice care.

“The ‘card ladies’ from Rudyard in the calendar have played cards together once a month for 50 years,” Mongene said. “They’re in three of the pictures, as there are 13 of them. The Antique Equipment Association ladies agreed to be in it and dedicated their picture to their former member, Sharon Thompson, who died of pancreatic cancer and had hospice care.”

The calendar also features 106-year-old JennyLee Olesek, who is featured during the month of May.

“My favorite photograph was of Jenny, whose only worry was that the photo shoot would run long and she’d miss her weekly bridge game,” said McConkey. “She’s so full of life and wanted to pose with a glass of white wine.”

Olesek was introduced during the recent Dancing with the Stars for Hospice House. Her granddaughter, Deb McPherson, one of the judges during the event, said people who bought the calendar that night were asking Olesek for her autograph.

“Everyone who posed for the calendar has had such a great time,” Mongene said, crediting her partner on the project, Galey, and photographer McConkey for making the calendar an expression of beauty and playfulness. Mongene and Galey both posed for the calendar, too, and are featured with three fellow board members in a photo taken in front of the new Hospice House.

Sault Printing produced the calendar and donated much of their services, and area businesses, individuals and organizations sponsored individual calendar pages, donating $500 toward the calendar’s production. Deb Cook, who manages the graphics department at Lake Superior State University, put the finishing touches on the layout in memory of her husband Don.

To get a copy of “Calendar Girls,” stop by the new Hospice House at 308 W. 12th Ave, call 906-259-0222 or write

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