Mary Connell of St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Downeyville has made sure people in the area have one less excuse for missing appointments next year, while at the same time raising money for the next phase of improvements to the Downeyville Hall.
And, all it took was 12 good men.
“A Downeyville Dozen” is a 2021 fundraising calendar featuring 12 of the area’s hardest working area men. Faced with a COVID-mandated reduction in money-generating events intended to assist with the next phase of work on the hall (as featured in this Advocate podcast), Connell and her committee got creative and looked at ways to bring in donations that didn’t originate in the hall itself.
In addition to a golf tournament, and this year’s annual beef barbecue (which became a successful drive-through event) they decided to take a chance on a calendar.
“I can assure you, the men are fully clothed. Since we are associated with the church, we are very circumspect in what we do.”
The money is earmarked for phase three of the Downeyville Hall Renovation Project. So far, the hall has seen accessibility improvements to the upstairs washrooms, and a wheelchair lift installed. In phase two, a new roof and soffit were installed by the Carroll family.
In what sounds like a throwback to the ‘good old days,’ parents, cousins, uncles, nieces and others contributed to either putting the roof on, or cooking meals in the kitchen underneath it. Phase three involves improvements to other washrooms to make them barrier-free, and updates to the kitchen and to the great room which is suitable for dances and receptions.
The woman behind the camera for the shoot was Ashley O’Neill, a local resident and an example of what Connell feels is the simple secret to their fundraising success.
“We identify someone in the community who can do something, and we ask them to do it.” In her case, O’Neill — who studied photography in college — volunteered to make the photos because her husband is a third generation resident and helping out is firmly ingrained in the family.
She said the men were wonderful to work with. “The guys were great sports. They almost all had a similar reaction, at first saying, ‘I don’t really want to do this.’ But, even though many were uncomfortable, they were willing to go through with it because it was for a great cause.”
Faced with the tightrope of choosing who to put in the calendar, Connell selected participants based on profession. Starting with a blue-collar theme, she made a list of occupations and went through her contacts to see who matched up. It took some arm twisting, but plumbers, farmers, firemen, EMS workers, mechanics, policemen and contractors among others are all represented.
The full-frontal coverage decision didn’t seem to hurt sales any. They’re all gone. With close to 300 copies ordered, and their fund-raising goal surpassed, plans are already in place for a 2022 calendar.