The Petal Connection: Hope and Joy in Full Bloom
Aug 28, 2019 04:09PM
Imagine spending time with a family member or friend who is in hospice care or declining health when a surprise bouquet of flowers finds its way to you and your loved one. It’s sure to make everyone smile for a moment during difficult times. Bouquets of flowers provide joy and brightness to someone’s day, but they also connect people and can provide an opportunity for conversation one might never have imagined.
As a way of teaching her children to give back to their communities and after her beloved grandmother entered hospice, Jennifer Arey launched a Northern California “flower repurposing” organization (under The Bloom Project) that eventually became The Petal Connection. Since 2013, the organization’s volunteers have created almost 55,000 flower arrangements for hospice patients, senior care facilities, and others who enjoy flowers. They deliver approximately 1,000 arrangements monthly throughout Sacramento and Placer counties. Many volunteers meet each Monday and Tuesday to repurpose flowers from local grocery stores and event venues that are meant to be thrown away. Many newlyweds also arrange to have their flowers donated after their weddings. The volunteers keep the best of the donated bunches and create new arrangements.
The work is so popular, weekly sign-ups are needed to schedule who is available to build the bouquets. Volunteers help to coordinate pick-up of floral donations, delivery of bouquets to hospice and senior facilities, collection and washing of donated vases, and manage a fundraising and events committee. These kind souls also add personal notes to each bouquet.
Arey, who is president of the non-profit, cannot express enough how the quality of the volunteers has helped the organization grow. The group now uses a shop in Roseville on the corner of Sierra College Boulevard and Roseville Parkway. “Come and see us,” she invites. “We are always blessed by how the beauty of the flowers and the beauty of the volunteers is connecting the world to the patients.”
The work and the need for The Petal Connection is growing. “We plan to add Wednesdays to our calendar by September 2019,” says Arey. “Another goal is to work with Meals on Wheels with the hope to partner in the next few months by adding flowers to the meal delivery.” Arey credits the quality of people who are involved with The Petal Connection for their success— they’d create bouquets around the clock if they could. The work begins with the flowers and ends with connecting people together who may not otherwise be linked.
When volunteers find themselves delivering the arrangements to senior living facilities, it allows them to experience the joy their work and creativity brings. Even when patients express that they do not want to see visitors, they usually agree to the surprise flowers. “These random acts of kindness help to remind people of all the good in the world,” says Arey. There are occasions where a thankful post on social media or a hand-written note finds its way back to the group, becoming their true “payday.”
By Susan Wallace
Photos by Dante Fontana