(Shown left to right) McLean Hospice volunteers, Jerri Pease, Simsbury; Jane Erie, W. Simsbury and Kathy Mock, East Granby
On a recent rainy Monday morning, Hospice volunteers gathered at McLean’s greenhouse with their garden flowers in hand. It was time for their “Operation Hope” project of the day…sharing beautiful and colorful flowers with McLean Hospice patients to brighten their days. There were white daisies, lilies, black-eyed susans, hydrangeas, carnations, greens, lavenders, and a host of other flowers
Kathy Mock, from E. Granby, the project leader, initiated the idea that volunteers could donate garden flowers from their yards. She reached out to the hospice volunteer group – a cadre of 60 plus volunteers for donations, and was pleased at the response. She, and McLean hospice volunteers, Jane Erie and Jerri Pease gathered the beautiful flowers and worked side by side to design lovely floral bouquets. Then they set off to deliver the flower arrangements to McLean Hospice patients residing at both the McLean healthcare facility and at Caleb Hitchcock nursing facility in Bloomfield.
Kathy explained that the volunteers wanted to expand the Hospice Enhancing Life Programs (HELP) such as pet and music therapy or complementary therapies like Reiki that are already offered by McLean’s Hospice program. When McLean’s director, Debra Oakes, suggested volunteers consider flower therapy, Volunteer Coordinator Lori Scudder knew Kathy was the perfect volunteer to lead the initiative, as she is an award-winning floral designer.
Kathy and her committee have reached out to area garden clubs, merchants, wholesalers and funeral homes for donations of flowers. With those donations, the volunteers will be able to expand deliveries to cheer more hospice patients and families including those who live in their own homes in the community and those who live at Assisted Living facilities as well as at other nursing homes serviced by the McLean Hospice Program.
Kathy also said that several weeks ago a large donation of flowers from a local funeral home allowed the volunteers to “kick off the program”. The volunteers were able to repurpose the flowers and create vase arrangements. Patients who received them from the Hospice Volunteers with a “to cheer your day” card sentiment were surprised and pleased. Jane commented that the committee chose the name Operation Hope for the initiative as, “it was in line with the Hospice philosophy of bringing a little joy to those on their end of life journey. Flowers can help put a smile on your face, brighten your day and spirits.”
Jerri said she was pleased to be able to bring flowers to several of the patients/families she was supporting, as she knew they would be comforting and uplifting. While flower donations may be sporadic at the outset of the program, Kathy and her committee are hoping a more consistent source of flower donations will be forthcoming.
McLean Hospice serves patients in the communities of Avon, Burlington, Canton, Farmington, the Granbys, Simsbury, West Hartford and Windsor. Visit the Hospice site @ www.mcleanhospice.org