Flower arrangements are a part of so many traditions: weddings, funerals and even the Olympics. Winning athletes are given bouquets of flowers before they are given their medals. In Beijing athletes received roses; Turin Olympians were given groupings of azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. In British Columbia the green mum and hypericum berry bouquet beat out 57 other arrangements–and not just because green mums are indiginous to Canada, have little fragrance and a low pollen count (lessening the chance for Olympian allergic reaction). The winning arrangement has a nifty philanthropic angle.
Winning bouquet designer June Strandburg not only creates beautiful arrangements, but teaches floristry to women who have have been victims of violence or are turning their lives around after substance addiction or a prison stay. Strandberg’s program even helps with job placement. All 22 people creating the 1,800 official Olympic bouquets are graduates of her program.
Flowers and philanthropy can be a part of funeral traditions too. After funerals, families choose where flower arrangements should be delivered. Most take flowers home or leave them at a house of worship.
As part of their signature services, Krause Funeral Homes funeral directors take photos of all arrangements and cards and give them to familes for keepesake and thank you note purposes. Then families are offered the option of having some or all flowers delivered free of charge to wherever they choose (afterall, who wants pollen messing up a car?). Funeral Directors make suggestions like choosing to brighten the community room at the former retirement facility of their loved one.
Some organizations take it a step further. According to Sandy Wals at Luther Manor Retirement Community in Wauwatosa, WI, residents in their Floral Group take donated arrangements apart and then spend a relaxing hour or two enjoying each other’s company and honing their skills at floral arranging. Finished pieces are used as centerpieces, special gifts, etc. Those flowers work hard: they comfort a grieving family, provide enjoyment to a group of seniors and then brighten someone’s day. Without deliveries from Krause Funeral Homes and others, there would be no club. And while International Olympic Committee rules require bouquets to be no larger than 30 cm. by 25 cm., Luther Manor’s Floral Group can can enjoy creating arrangements of any shape or size.