Flowers can brighten anyone’s day. At Ware Presbyterian Village, a senior living community in Oxford, PA, spirits are lifted on a regular basis thanks to an area program that brings as many as 20 bouquets a week to the facility for the residents to enjoy, all free of charge.
Petals Please is an outreach based in nearby Exton, PA, that repurposes flowers from weddings, funerals and corporate gatherings by breaking down the original arrangements into smaller ones and delivering them to seniors. The deliveries to retirement communities like Ware Village are a weekly highlight for residents and staff alike.
“They (the residents) look forward to it each week,” said Annie Cantymagli, the executive director at Ware Village. “They try to identify the flowers. It’s an event. There’s a whole anticipation about what’s going to appear that week because it’s different every week. It brings smiles to their faces. You can tell it lifts their hearts.
“It’s not only the residents it brings joy to, it also impacts the staff. It’s really a gift for all of us.”
With an average of 90 residents living in the skilled nursing area of Ware Village, they all get their opportunity to enjoy the bouquets throughout the year. While some flowers are displayed in the common areas of the facility, most arrangements are given to residents who are either celebrating a milestone or need a pick-me-up due to an illness or loss of someone special.
“It’s something different every week,” Annie said, “and that’s because they’re dependent on the flowers that they receive.”
Ware Village’s Life Enrichment Team helps determine the recipients of the deliveries based on the conversations they have with the residents throughout the week. If something special is occurring in a resident’s life, requests on the type of bouquet can be made to Petals Please, but most times the arrangements are limited to the type of flowers they are recycling that week.
Ware Village has been receiving deliveries from Petals Please for several years. The relationship started with the local Hospice chapter, which provides volunteers for Petals Please and connected the retirement community with the organization. It’s been a relationship that has, pardon the pun, blossomed over time.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful unique way to repurpose flowers that are still viable,” Annie said. “We’re not getting flowers that are half dead. These are beautiful arrangements.”
The vases used for the bouquets that are brought to Ware Village are washed and returned to Petals Please when they bring in a new delivery of flowers.
“It’s like an old-fashioned milkman type of thing,” Annie explained. “They pick up the empties and leave us with full, beautiful petals.”
Petals Please is a non-profit organization that started in 2018 with a few volunteers gathering the bouquets and breaking them down into smaller arrangements in a garage. Currently, the organization has more than 100 volunteers, who continued this outreach during the early stages of the pandemic when it was felt that the bouquets were needed more than ever to lift the spirits of those who were shut in. First responders and hospital staff were added to the list of recipients during the initial phase of the pandemic.
“Their mission is to bring joy to the elderly, local seniors through the beauty of flowers,” Annie said. “It has been that way week-in and week-out for four years. There have been no blips. They have been consistent in their giving and their gift of love through their flowers.”
When the flowers come through the door, the fragrance and beauty of the arrangements are quickly smelled and seen throughout the retirement community. It’s a partnership that benefits everyone involved.
“It supports our organizational values and our mission,” Annie concluded. “Their mission very much aligns with our organization and with the church doctrine. If it went away, I would be so very, very sad because it’s so meaningful. You don’t want to take those moments of joy for granted. They’re not asking for anything. They’re not soliciting anything from us. They’re just giving and they’re giving from their hearts through flowers.
“I feel very blessed that we’re able to be the recipient of this kind of love and gift. It’s an unconditional gift of love, and it’s so meaningful to the residents.”