PINE RIVER, Minn. — The last year has been challenging for many, especially those in senior living communities where contact with others has been severely limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and communal activities are just now resuming.
That's why Pine River's Sherwood Florist chose to do what it could to simply brighten the lives of the Pine River Good Samaritan Society residents.
"Instead of throwing them away we just give them to them so they can have flowers and brighten their day," said Shaylee Sherwood, of Sherwood Florist. "We just figured during this time they couldn't see a lot of their family, especially when it first started. We thought it would be nice to boost their mood because it's kind of a sad time."
On Fridays each week, the florist receives new flowers and would traditionally discard stock that was getting older. Since November those flowers have been going to a good cause.
Instead of discarding them, Sherwood Florist gives them to the nursing home, not only providing color during the long, extra dour winter, but giving some residents a pleasing activity. Since November, a small group of residents has been gathering each week to make flower arrangements from the donated blooms.
For one of the regular flower arrangers, the event has been a blast from the past, as she used to arrange flowers for a living. Her family requested her name not be printed; however, she was arranging flowers with intense focus when flowers were delivered Friday, April 9.
"I love flowers anywhere, any place any time. I love them. I like them in my house. I have them in my house as often as possible."
— Marie Morse.
Those who, like her, volunteer time to arrange the flowers get a small reward as well. They get to choose which arrangement they get.
The weekly occurrence is something the residents look forward to. It has been an important part of each week for resident Marie Morse, who has always loved gardening. In addition to these arranged flowers, she has potted plants and has helped with the gardens at Good Sam in the past.
"I love them," said Morse. "I love flowers anywhere, anyplace anytime. I love them. I like them in my house. I have them in my house as often as possible."
"Everybody lights up when they see these flowers," said Good Sam Activity Director Jody Wilson. "The staff likes it too. Sometimes we have so many we just put them on the staff's desks in the hallway so everybody can see when they go by. Everybody seems to like flowers. It makes them feel special getting something delivered."
"Everybody lights up when they see these flowers. The staff likes it too."
— Good Sam Activity Director Jody Wilson
The Friday after Valentine's Day was particularly colorful.
"We had a lot of extra flowers after that," Wilson said. "It filled the whole table and many vases came pre-arranged."
Wilson said the residents seem to really like roses, lilies and hibiscus type flowers.
For approximately a year now the residents have been living under extreme restrictions with staff doing their best to enhance the lives of the residents as much as they could. Staff has been attempting to fill in gaps left by restrictions.
Wilson used to work as a hairdresser, so while restrictions eliminated the presence of a hair stylist from outside, she has been providing residents with her services.
The facility hasn't been able to bring in live music either, and Wilson has been filling in there as much as she could. Another staff member who once served as a pastor has been providing residents with extra comfort and aid.
Wilson said some restrictions on the facility are finally loosening. Most notably, activities in the community are returning. In the meantime, the flowers from Sherwood Florist have provided brightness and color for those who needed it.
"We're happy to help," Sherwood said.