ABN Member Spotlight: Random Acts of Flowers
First off, guys like flowers too! I am a 34-year-old male, I like video games, I enjoy sports, I work on cars — but I also enjoy rom-coms, my favorite color is purple, my voice goes up an octave around puppies, and I love, LOVE getting flowers from my wife. Flowers have the ability to improve any situation. They increase emotional health, aid in memory and concentration, support relaxation, and quite simply, make people feel better faster. The gift of a bouquet is a memorable one. They show gratitude, communicate friendship, and are most often an expression of love — but they can also help people who are coping with difficult times. Flowers are the universal signal that someone else is thinking about you.
There is an organization that started here in Knoxville which specializes in providing recycled flowers, encouragement, and personal moments of kindness to those individuals who are fighting illness and may lack a support structure many of us take for granted. Random Acts of Flowers, now a national nonprofit organization, was founded in 2008 by Larsen Jay after suffering a near-fatal accident. While in the hospital, Larsen credits his successful recovery to the immense support from daily visitors and dozens of floral bouquets. Medical research has proven that patients who have access to flowers in their rooms display lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue. They also have shorter hospital stays, lower systolic blood pressure, and an overall greater optimistic outlook. Once Larsen was able to leave his room, he noticed a number of people were not as fortunate as he was in terms of visitors or flowers. It was this moment that would change his life, and the lives of thousands, over the next ten years.
Random Acts of Flowers (RAF) was started by one man in a wheelchair, delivering his collection of flowers to those who he felt were in greater need of support and well-wishes. This simple gesture left a lasting impression and compelled Larsen to expand on his moment of kindness. Since then, RAF has grown into a national organization and has made more than 305,000 deliveries since their start in 2008 but hit 102,252 in 2017 alone. They average 8,000 deliveries per month from their five operating branches nationwide and are growing every day. Their focus on mission allows them to literally turn trash into treasure. Every dollar and donation received is transformed into a simple act of kindness that provides encouragement and hope, leaving a lasting impression on everyone involved.
They offer may ways to get involved. Every week, volunteers prepare donated flowers, creating beautiful bouquets, making personal deliveries that provide encouragement to individuals in hospitals, hospice, and other health care facilities. If you have hosted or participated in a wedding, memorial service, church function, or similar event you can pass on the joy to others. Those who would like to participate can also serve as greeters, drivers, donation processors, or even provide administration assistance.
Random Acts of Flowers also hosts specialty events like Flowers After Hours where a professional florist will demonstrate how to create a basic floral design. Each attendee will create two floral arrangements, one they get to take home with them and another that will be delivered to an ill or elderly member of our community. The next event will be held on May 29, 2018 at Random Acts of Flowers Knoxville. The ticket price is $35, which includes containers, flowers, and instruction on floral arrangement. You can also schedule private events for weddings or baby showers, or, if you are anything like me, a bachelor party or fantasy football draft event! Remember, guys like flowers too!
To learn more, offer financial support, donate flowers, volunteer, or attend special events, call (865) 633-9082 or find them online at RAFKnoxville.org.
Eddie Crim graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he earned a master of art degree. He is currently working on his MBA from the University of Tennessee Haslam College of Business, with a concentration in entrepreneurship and innovation. Eddie grew up in Nashville but has called Knoxville home for the past 15 years. He started his own restoration and remodeling business, but has also taught photography part-time at Pellissippi Community College and the University of Tennessee. Eddie volunteers for multiple nonprofits, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee and Habitat for Humanity. He is also the director of philanthropy for the Tennessee Organization of MBAs. He loves his Knoxville community and hopes to take his diverse experiences and apply them to local nonprofits after graduation.