Raw and Reflective calendar showcases the grit and grace of people living with cancer

Annual fundraiser for Gilda's Club Simcoe Muskoka features 12 people from the community

For four years, Connect Hair Studio in Barrie and Gilda’s Club Simcoe Muskoka have shown a different and raw side of local people battling cancer with the “Raw and Reflective” calendar.

The calendar showcases 12 community members living with cancer.

Sharon Smith, the owner of Connect Hair studio, says the idea for the project came to her after listening to her clients.

“So many people were sitting in my chair and telling me their stories, and I thought, ‘I’d like to find a place and a way to support all of these people.'”

Soon after, she teamed up with Gilda’s Club Simcoe Muskoka, a not-for-profit agency that provides support services for families and people battling cancer.

Smith says getting people to pose for the calendar has never been challenging.

They joined us to talk about the calendar

janet Morrison calendar 2023

“I mean… to talk people into taking their clothes off for a calendar… everybody finds that funny, but the truth is that they are raw, emotionally raw and willing to share.”

She adds that people are happy to participate but jokes some of her clients get nervous about sitting in her chair.

Since its first calendar, the project has expanded artistically. This year is all about ‘grit,’ she explains.

“I found 12 models within the community who had their journeys, and I matched them up with 12 different photographers, and with some strategically placed props, we have an implied naked calendar. That’s the raw side of raw and reflective,” she explains.

“Next to their picture is a write-up about a part of their life that could inspire somebody who is either living with somebody with cancer or has recently had a cancer diagnosis.”

Executive Director Aaron Lutz of Gildas Club Simcoe Muskoka says initiatives like Raw and Reflective are vital for people to feel connected.

” They want a community, and our whole purpose is that no one goes through cancer alone. Over the years, there have been many stories about how efforts like this help build a community so people feel connected and part of a system that’s there to help when they need it.”

Lutz says they hope to raise $20 thousand but explains that the money stays in the community.

“These proceeds are going back into the programs that we offer. Friendships and relationships are made to a Gildas Club, and I see it daily. So we must provide these opportunities because not everyone has the same friend or family network they can rely on.”

Raw and Reflective Calendars are available at Connect Hair Studio located at 274 Burton Ave and Gildas Club Simcoe Muskoka.