PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A group of volunteers is taking unsold flowers from local florists and turning them into works of art for the people who need them most.
Every week, volunteer bouquet experts with the Bloom Project gather to create arrangements for hospice care patients.
“People have favorites of different varietals so often times I think it elicits memories and sometimes discussions around what flowers have meant to the family or individual,” founder Heidi Berkman said.
The Bloom Project was started in 2007 in Bend and in 2013 Berkman brought it to the Portland area.
“It all first began in a garage in Bend, Oregon with a few flowers and a few friends — all of us with a passion for hospice,” Berkman said. “We either experienced the death of a loved one or we had known about it from dealing with end of life issues for our families and friends and we felt very strongly that oftentimes these people were going at it alone and sometimes forgotten.”
All the flowers volunteers sort through and arrange are donated by local businesses when they aren’t sold.
“Oftentimes they’ve heard about it already,” Berkman said. “Trader Joe’s, Zupans, New Seasons, Market of Choice and many more are interested because flowers that are not sold are able to be given and repurposed for a good cause.”
“Mainly what we look for is the flowers at their peak the most pristine,” volunteer Debbi Stone said. “Any dents, wrinkles –strip those off.”
Volunteers then take their bouquets to the Bloom Project’s hospice partners.
The gratitude people feel for the Bloom Project bringing joy in their final days is clear on their “Paycheck wall,” which features thank you cards from patients and families.
“Every bouquet that I make, and I’m sure everyone else here does too,” Stone said. “They look at it and think, ‘who’s this going to go to?’ and ‘What’s this going to do for them?'”