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Crossfield retirement home sells quirky calendars for charity

Once again, a seniors’ living facility in Crossfield is selling a resident of the month calendar to liven spirits and raise money for charity, with only a quarter of the calendars left for sale.

Once again, a senior's living facility in Crossfield is selling a resident of the month calendar to liven spirits and raise money for charity, with only a quarter of the calendars left for sale.

Rocky View Lodge, a facility housing approximately 65 seniors, caused quite a stir last year, when they sold calendars featuring photos of the women who call the lodge home – an initiative spurred by one of the facility’s residents.

“It started out as an idea of one of the residents, but it ended up helping them to get through the COVID months trying to put it together,” said Brenda Campbell, social and leisure coordinator at the lodge.

Campbell said they started photo shoots for the first edition of the calendar in early 2020 but had to postpone the project due to the onset of the pandemic. When restrictions began to ease, she said they were able to bring the photographer back to finish the calendar.

“We called it the Wrinkle Ranch because we’re a senior's lodge,” she said. “I personally love it and I think it’s a fun play on the age of the people in the [calendar]. We’re independent living, so they are quite independent people still, but it’s fun they’re embracing that terminology.”

The 2021 project was a huge success, as the proceeds from the calendars’ sale ended up raising $2,000 for the Crossfield Fire Department’s Christmas hamper program.

According to Campbell, the success of the first iteration encouraged the lodge to do the calendars again, but this time featuring the men.

She said the men at the lodge were initially hesitant to pose for their glam shots, but she convinced them it would help to raise money for the community, spread some cheer, and they would get a professional photograph they could be proud to share with their family.

Campbell added a lot of the seniors at Rocky View Lodge are people who have lived in Crossfield or the surrounding area for a long time, and are well known in the community.

“So, you really see the love and support from the community, especially by the families and the farming community because a lot of our people came from farming backgrounds – it's just so nice,” she said.

Local photographer Katrina Smith shot both calendars for the lodge free of charge. Campbell said Smith did a great job of getting the men posing for shots, which included scenes of residents posing by trucks and tractors, camping, or wearing traditional cowboy garb.

“I would never have expected [the men] would be so engaging with this,” she said. “They’re buying them to give to their family members or their families are coming in and buying a whole bunch – it's fantastic.”

Campbell said the photos for the calendar were all taken during the summer months – ironically, Mr. December’s photograph just so happened to be taken on the hottest day of the year.

“We could hardly stand to put that poor winter coat on him,” she said. “But [Smith] made it look like winter the way she was able to manipulate it with Photoshop, but we all know how hard it was.”

She added an important feature of the calendar is cover star Gary Keeler, a beloved member of the lodge who passed away shortly after the shoot.

“We knew he was not long for this world, sadly, so we put him on the cover as a memorial to him, because he was such a sweet man and we love him to pieces,” she said.

Additionally, she added Mr. October is more than meets the eye.

“In the first calendar, we had one of the ladies back out and we needed somebody quickly, so I convinced one of the men to dress up as a woman for October,” she said with a laugh. “We decided in the men’s calendar to do the same thing, so Mr. October is actually a woman.”

Campbell said they printed 250 calendars in total and they are selling quickly. She estimates they will be gone before Christmastime.

“At first, we thought, how many do we print? Who’s going to want to buy a picture of a glammed-up old lady on the wall? They're really honest about that,” she said. “But man, I’ll tell you, the pictures turned out beautiful and the men’s ones are really cute.

“All the families, they’re so excited to get a nice picture of their father or mother."

So far, $1,000 of this year’s profits have been donated to the Crossfield Fire Department, with additional money to be donated to Tails to Tell, a local animal shelter in town.

She added the calendars likely will not continue next year, since they have already gone with the men and the women of the lodge, but staff may look to do a Wrinkle Ranch recipe book or picture book project in the future.

“I think it made all the residents feel really special that somebody would want a picture of them hung up for a whole month in [their] home,” she said. “We started it as a lark and now ended up being quite a nice, really well accepted project in the community.”

Those interested in purchasing a calendar can do so at The Donut Man, ATB Bank, or Sharp as Steele hairdressing salon. Alternatively, they can call Campbell at Rocky View Lodge to see if any copies are still available.

Carmen Cundy,

Follow me on Twitter @carmenrcundy
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