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Style Magazine

The Bloom Project Sacramento

Jul 03, 2014 12:25PM ● By Style

Back Row: Kay Valler, Cathy Faustine and Laura Kuntz Middle Row: Sue Grahame and Lynn Wilson Front Row: Lorrie Wilson, Kaitlin Wilson, Jennifer Arey, Gigi Sisco, and Carole Leaf – Photo by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group

When her grandmother began receiving hospice care, Jennifer Arey was reminded of a friend’s volunteer work with The Bloom Project, an Oregon-based nonprofit that provides fresh floral arrangements to hospice and palliative care patients on a weekly basis. The concept, she says, was “so simple and wonderful” that it inspired her to bring the program to the Sacramento/Placer region in October of 2013. With the help of an entirely volunteer staff, Arey creates arrangements in her garage and delivers them to Bristol Hospice Sacramento, located in Roseville, and Vitas Hospice, located in Sacramento. “I am overwhelmed how [it’s] taken off here in our community,” she shares. “We all love hearing the stories the nurses share and the thank you notes we receive. They warm your heart with such a simple act of kindness.”

Following events (weddings, proms, etc.), flowers and vases are donated—many by local merchants, including Raley’s, Whole Foods Market, and Ambience Floral Design. Laura Kuntz, owner of Laura’s Elegant Arrangement, provides both time and materials to the cause—free of charge, and says she hopes to see others share their talents. “In 2005, Rutgers University did a study on the emotional impact of flowers, [and] it was shown that flowers have a positive impact on the brain,” she says. “I feel blessed that I [can help] make someone’s day a little brighter. Giving my time to a wonderful cause is such a great gift to me.”

According to Bristol Hospice Senior Director Dawn Lambie, RN, MSN, The Bloom Project and its dedication to spreading a “simple gesture of kindness” has had a tremendous impact on patients whose eyes seem to “glow” when they receive a handmade bouquet. “My philosophy as a nurse is to provide compassionate and respectful care,” she explains, “[and this] has afforded me the opportunity to provide a special gesture that is consistent with this philosophy.”

Heidi Berkman, founder of the original Bloom Project in Bend, Oregon, says she looks forward to replicating the program in even more cities. “With local community support, paired with the support of floral and health-care partnerships, we intend to build a strong, sustainable organization to bring this gift of flowers to patients for years to come,” she says. “We will thoughtfully and strategically network our collective resources to provide the support needed for each community we enter.”

As they face Sacramento’s scorching summer temperatures, Arey and her fellow volunteers hope to transition from her garage into a larger, climate-controlled facility so that they can not only continue, but also expand their efforts.

“We are looking for an empty space to be donated to us, as we are a registered nonprofit. We are also always in need of flowers, small glass vases and monetary funds for supplies,” she shares. “It’s a true trash-to-treasure story. Why should beautiful flowers be disposed of when they can bring so much joy to others?”

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