Hometown Heroes: Random Acts of Flowers brings encouragement to individuals in healthcare facilities with recycled flower arrangements
For each of us, we can all name a time we felt alone and forgotten, especially in our most vulnerable moments. In those times, we wish someone would reach out to give us encouragement and tell us everything will be alright. This situation is the the life of many individuals in healthcare facilities. Many are facing unknowns without a community championing them in their recovery or someone’s hand to hold onto.
Random Acts of Flowers, founded by Larsen Jay, saw this need in the community and found a way to conquer it. The nonprofit focuses on bringing joy to individuals in healthcare facilities by collecting recycled flowers that would otherwise be thrown into the garbage, and repurposing them into beautiful bouquets.
“The mission is so simplistic, but yet so important,” says Allison Slavick, Random Acts of Flowers executive director. “People who are facing injury or illness, or even just the aging process… and having a personal moment where somebody comes in and shows that they care and that they’re thinking about you, I mean, the impact of that is just incredible to witness.”
The organization began in 2008, a year after Jay suffered a near fatal accident. It was after this accident that his eyes were opened. To him, receiving flowers, cards, and visitors encouraged him to persevere through his recovery process. Though, it shocked him when he looked around and noticed many people lacked the same support. This sparked the “first delivery” as Jay repurposed his own flowers and wheeled them down in his wheelchair to someone in need of support. This one moment has now expanded from an idea, to a non-profit in Knoxville, to new cities around the country. Though, we are lucky to know they started in Knoxville and continue to serve the community within it.
As of now, Random Acts of Flowers has 1,500 deliveries in Knoxville a month. A study by the University of Tennessee Medicine—conducted for the organization—found that 11.3 percent of participants stated that Random Acts of Flowers were the only visitors they received during their time in a healthcare facility. Slavick says she’s been working to expand the amount of facilities the organization reaches.
For Slavick, the impact of her work could be felt during her very first week on the job. The non-profit had received several calls and to Slavick, it reassured her of taking the position and knowing that she was truly making an impact.
“Receiving one of those calls during my first week from a woman who had just received florals from one of our deliveries – hearing her voice shake – the joy that you could hear of somebody who needed this moment of kindness and received it brought me to tears,” she says.
The impact of the bouquets goes far beyond the ones it serves. In fact, a large majority of the organization’s volunteers have been a recipient of a bouquet or a loved one of a recipient. Slavick says that anyone, even if they claim not to have a green thumb or a creative eye, is able to participate in many ways with the organization as a volunteer. (You can learn more about the volunteer application here.)
“There’s so many ways to get involved, and bring a little bit of kindness and a little bit of joy. And we really want to help bring in that volunteer spirit.” Allison Slavick
But if volunteering isn’t a possibility, there are still other ways to get involved. The organization hosts a variety of events throughout the year to raise awareness and dollars for its mission, including Fall Fest this Sunday, October 15 (more info here) ,Veterans Week in November, and Poinsettia Week in December. Slavick says that the events are opportunities to “advocate on behalf of the people that we serve.”
Slavick encourages anyone with an interest to serve to visit their website. “There’s so many ways to get involved,” she says, “and bring a little bit of kindness and a little bit of joy. And we really want to help bring in that volunteer spirit.”
To learn more about the organization or to find more information about their upcoming events, visit rafknoxville.org.