Spreading a little cheer to those who often have no one
L-R: Irene Chausse, Kathleen Tosiello & Gail Fioretti
Imagine living in a nursing home and having few or no visitors.
One day you wake up from your afternoon nap and a smiling face is standing in front of you with a small bouquet of beautiful, colorful flowers. “These are for you,” the person says.
This act of caring is repeated over and over again for patients living in hospice care on Cape Cod by Suzanne Carter, founder of Flower Angels USA and her band of volunteers.
They bring a colorful teacup brimming with an assortment of flowers like white daisies, red roses and pink carnations, all leftovers donated by brides who marry on the Cape and local businesses. A few words of cheer and kindness also accompany the gift.
“There are 2,000 nursing home and hospice beds on Cape Cod,” said Carter. “Of that number, 85 percent of those patients rarely have a visitor and 60 percent never have a visitor.”
When Carter’s mother was staying in a nursing home in Provincetown, she noticed that many patients never had any visitors. She decided to change that by repurposing flowers to use in teacup bouquets and bring to those patients who had no one visiting them.
In the past two years, the 501c3 non-profit organization has grown and now delivers floral bouquets to 30 facilities on Cape Cod every month. Since its beginning in 2014, volunteers have delivered a total of 18,596 bouquets and processed 20,133 bouquets according to Carter.
The foundation is a well-oiled machine with more than 80 volunteers. Four teams pick up flowers to be re-purposed and bring to the Flower Angels’ shop in Yarmouth on the weekends.
“Brides from all over the country who have their weddings on the Cape contact us and want to donate their flowers,” she said. The organization also receives flowers from Trader Joe’s, Shaw’s and the Lower Cape Children’s Garden.
The decorative teacups are donated by people whose family members have passed and from area thrift shops.
Volunteers spend Mondays and Thursdays taking apart the deliveries of flowers and separating them into various vases for the 10-plus flower arrangers.
“Once you come to help, you want to stay,” said Gail Fioretti of Cotuit.
“Many wonderful friendships have blossomed here,” said Sue Latimer of Yarmouthport. “I look forward to coming, this is a feast for the eyes (with all the flowers).”
One of the newest organizations to sign on for flower deliveries is the VNA Hospice and Palliative care program.
“I found out about Flower Angels USA when I saw them in a parade and then noticed a wall calendar in one of our nurse’s office,” said Sarah Endres, director of the VNA Hospice and Palliative Care program.
“I decided to contact them.”
Carter delivered the first two trays of flowers to the VNA office in Dennis on August 15. Since that day more than 40 bouquets of flowers have been delivered to hospice patients by nurses, social workers and Joy Indomenico, the music therapist.
During a recent visit to a home where the husband of a couple is receiving hospice care, Indomencico brought a bouquet of flowers with her. After she gave it to them, they told her that it was their 70th wedding anniversary. “It was already a special day for them and then they received a bouquet, too” said Endres.
The gifts of smiles and flowers are also being delivered to hospice patients at JML Care Center in Falmouth. Carter said the patients at JML were so excited to receive the flowers. “They had grins from ear to ear,” she said. “They said ‘you’ve made my week.’”
“We have a saying in hospice, we try to bring light into the day for our patients,” said Endres. “This is a wonderful way to honor our patients.”
[Featured Image: L-R Suzanne Carter delivers the first bouquets of flowers to VNA of Cape Cod Hospice nurses, Paul Tambolleo LPN, and Rochelle Reardon RN.]