Story by Dave Eckert
Have you ever wondered what happened to the floral arrangements at a wedding, memorial service, charity event, or corporate or private function? The fact is most of the flowers are discarded, which is such a waste. That’s where the nonprofit organization, Unexpected Blooms, steps in. Working directly with the organizers of those events along with florists and retailers, Unexpected Blooms uses volunteers to recut, refresh, and reuse the flowers, which are then delivered to senior citizens throughout the metro.
“Unexpected Blooms was founded in 2017 by a couple who lived in Prairie Village; one was a funeral director and the other a florist. They saw a need to rescue florals being thrown away after large events, weddings, funerals, and celebrations of life, so they started the nonprofit,” Board Member AJ Miller shared. “Unexpected Blooms is now in two locations, thanks to churches sharing space with us, and is looking to continue to bring happiness to seniors.” Board Chair Nancy Williams provided some additional background. “In addition to our founders’ interest in rescuing florals, when they visited an elderly relative, they noticed that other residents were lonely and didn’t seem to have visitors. The idea of reaching residents and spreading joy became Unexpected Blooms! Volunteers have continued to deliver flowers to seniors, while also reaching out to family violence shelters and other nonprofit clients,” Williams stated.
In addition to brightening lives, flowers have been shown to have numerous positive health impacts. Studies have shown that flowers can induce creative energy and positive vibes, ultimately making us feel better. Nature can change our mood and ease stress. Flowers can free us from anxiety, depression, and the everyday worries of life. Another benefit of being around flowers is that they reduce stress.
The feedback the group gets from the facilities they work with, and the people served by those facilities is heartwarming. Melissa, a hospice community events staffer, told me, “As an organization which observes grief and sadness on a day-to-day basis, Unexpected Blooms has been such a blessing and gift to our patients and families. The glorious bouquets, which have been recycled from someone’s special day, have brought much joy and life to our patients and families facing imminent death.”
I asked Miller what she liked about the work Unexpected Blooms does on a personal level. She was quick to respond. “We take wonderful florals from one special occasion to delight a senior who is less able than they once were. I have been involved with Unexpected Blooms for over five years, and the sparkle that you get in someone’s eyes as they see the florals coming is priceless. Additionally, I have met so many wonderful people in this organization and hope to have long-term friendships with several,” Miller told me.
It all sounds amazing to me, so I wanted to know how I, and others, could potentially get involved. Williams says it’s as simple as going to their website unexpectedblooms.org. “Click on a menu item, depending on your wish to donate florals, donate money, become a volunteer to become involved. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s that simple,” Williams stated.
What a great group. What a great cause. I’m so happy to spread the word!