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Local men step up to the challenge for women's center
haven calendar pic2
Mike Smedshammer of Modesto Junior College, California State University, Stanislaus President Dr. Joseph Sheley, retired professor Dr. Steve Thomas, Jim Pecchenino of Central Catholic High School, Brandon Price of Modesto City Schools, Turlock Unified School District Board President Bob Weaver and County Superintendent Tom Changnon represent the Men of Education for the month of May in the Haven Womens Center of Stanislaus first annual Men in Stanislaus in Her Shoes calendar. - photo by Photo Contributed

While Mayor John Lazar is used to being in front of the camera at community events, it is not every day that he is photographed while teetering in red stilettos in downtown Modesto.

“Frankly, I was a little embarrassed. We were out there for about an hour walking around the city and county administrative offices, and it was unusual to have people honk their horn at you and walk by and point,” said Lazar.

Lazar and five other local city officials swallowed their pride and donned women’s shoes after agreeing to be featured in the Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus' first annual calendar titled “The Men of Stanislaus County Put Themselves in Her Shoes”. For only $20 locals can enjoy a good laugh as they recognize city officials, local law enforcement, construction and business men among others uncomfortably smile and laugh all while wearing women’s shoes.

The calendar aims to take a lighter approach to the serious issue of sexual violence as the Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus provides services to victims and survivors of sexual violence in the county. With a site in Modesto and Turlock, the center is able to accommodate several women in need in the area. The creation of the first annual calendar was precipitated by the center’s decision to host a Walk a Mile event which is a one mile race for men to compete in, but there’s one caveat: they must do it in women’s heels.

“We are trying to have more events that tie to the work that we do, versus sponsoring a gala or golf tournament. This is a great fundraiser, as well as an awareness event to really create a conversation about sexual violence. We wanted to do something tied to our mission,” said Belinda Rolicheck, executive director of Haven Women’s Center.

The idea of a calendar started as a joke at a board meeting, but soon became a way to raise awareness of the upcoming race. After receiving a donation of 368 pairs of shoes from the Women’s Center of the San Joaquin County, as well as donations of time and effort from Martino Graphic Design in Modesto, all that was left was for the men to show up. Surprisingly, the men were very receptive, said Rolicheck.

“I think Mayor Marsh really enjoyed himself. He actually had the best legs!” quipped Lazar.  

While Lazar did admit to how uncomfortable the heels were, he also noted that his respect for women has grown in more ways than one.

“It makes a lot of sense to try and raise funds for a cause such as Haven in this way and the local support is great,” said Lazar.

Those interested in purchasing calendars can do so at Proceeds go directly to Haven Women’s Center. Haven’s Walk a Mile race will take place on April 26, in downtown Modesto. Registration starts Feb. 1.