Women of Waynesville create benefit calendar

Oct 09, 2011
Photo by: Kendra Smathers Proceeds from the new Women of Waynesville (WOW) calendar will benefit REACH.

A calendar designed to both empower and benefit women is also one bound to create a bit of a stir in the community.

Created by Women of Waynesville (WOW), the 2012 calendar features local women in various poses some describe as soft nudity.

"We have a collective passion about supporting some of the local needs of women, small businesses and nonprofit organizations," said Nikki White, one of the WOW founders. "We were looking for a fundraising idea that nobody had tried before so we could make a substantial donation our first year."

All net proceeds from selling 500 calendars at $10 calendar each will benefit REACH of Haywood County this year.

The poses for each month feature WOW founders, along with several of their friends, showing bare backs, calves and lots of shoulders and arms. Photography for the calendar was done by Canton photographer Kendra Smathers.

"To really empower women, we need to show that all bodies are beautiful, whatever their shape or size," White said. "To love yourself completely, you need to start from the inside out."

Many of those who fall victim to domestic violence, whether it be verbal, emotional or physical, don't have that confidence to fully love themselves as they are. It is this idea White said WOW hopes to communicate through the calendar.

The four inspiring minds fueling WOW come from all walks of life, said White, a 32-year-old woman who spent much of her late teens and early 20s backpacking across Europe and South Africa.

White, now an advertising representative for Mountaineer Publishing, Inc., has been an advocate against domestic violence for more than a decade, and was the fundraising chairwoman for a nonrofit organization in Florida that provided “Direction not Rejection” for woman and children effected by domestic violence.

Michelle Briggs, 45, is the owner of The Herren House and Bridget’s Bistro in

Waynesville. She was born in the United Kingdon and came to America when she was in her early 20s to be a camp counselor. Because of her experiences, she chose not to return to England.

Briggs has been a manager and business owner of bed and breakfasts throughout Western North Carolina and through her dedication and perfected work ethic, has proven  that a one woman show can and will be successful. She is an advocate for breast cancer awareness, hospice and has organized several fundraising events to support these causes.

Laurie White, 55, works for Caring for Children, and has spent more than 28 years in the court system representing abused children as a Guardian Ad Litem. She was also the founder and president of a nonprofit organization in Florida called The Baker Bunch, Inc.

Her drive and passion for helping women, children and families involved in the court system is something she said has allowed her to be a “Guardian Angel” to thousands. Laurie White is a biological mother to four children, but she is the heart mother to hundreds of children that still call her “mom.”

Courtney McClure, 35, is a Haywood County native and works in the school system with the “exceptional children” in our community. She is also a recognized and a referred worker under Easter Seals, and assists families with severely disabled children in their homes on the evenings and weekends.

Her WOW colleagues know her as soft spoken and always a lady, but straight- forward and honest. McClure is known as "the “mind of reason” and promotes patience within WOW’s organization.

WOW’s first project, The Year of Empowering Women Calendar," will first be available at The Apple Festival to be held on Main Street in Waynesville, Saturday, Oct. 15.

WOW’s intention is to assist as many organizations with significant needs in the year 2012 as possible, organizers say. To purchase a calendar, or to find out more about how WOW can help raise funds, call 904-434-0755 or 452-7837.