In 2007, Random Acts of Flowers founder Larsen Jay was in a near-fatal accident landing him in a Tennessee hospital bed. Aside from expert medical care, he also credits the bouquets of flowers generously sent by friends and family in helping him heal and persevere through the multiple surgeries and challenging recovery process.
Leaving the hospital, he noticed how some patients didn’t have cheery flowers to give them an emotional lift as he had. The first Random Acts of Flowers donation was made that day when he re-purposed his bouquets and delivered them from his wheelchair.
Now, a decade later, his idea has turned into a movement and more than 400,000 bouquets have been delivered to cheer up hospital patients navigating injuries and surgeries all across the country. Random Acts of Flowers currently serves four locations: Knoxville, Tennessee; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Tampa Bay, Florida, serving more than 800 healthcare facilities and hospice providers.
“I knew the mission was important, but I never could have imagined just how valuable it is for so many people,” Jay says. “The first year in operation , we delivered less than 100 bouquets, and last year we delivered more than 100,000. It goes to show how far a no-strings-attached act of kindness can go.”
It has taken him far. He’s given a TED Talk and is a popular speaker all across the country inspiring many.
With a decade of doing good, he also recently reflected on what this experience has taught him.
“When we get busy or preoccupied with our hectic lives, it can be all too easy to forget the big impact a small act of kindness and generosity can have, both on us and the receiver,” he says. “Here at Random Acts of Flowers, the simple truth that flowers make people feel better, feel loved has turned into a multi-city mission and a philosophy of giving. “
The organization encourages others to create independent branches in other cities with a shared vision and value. They offer guidelines on what has worked for them and encourage florists to work with volunteers to re-purpose all the flowers that are often used just for one evening and still have a few more days of joy to give.
“Random Acts of Flowers can’t be everywhere, but we believe our mission can be,” he explains. “Dozens of organizations across the country have been inspired by the work that we do, and operate on various scales, delivering hope to people in their communities. There are unused flowers in every grocery store and weddings in every town. There are people in healthcare facilities across the country who would benefit from a visit and a bouquet of flowers, something to remind them that they are not alone and that they are loved.”
This is something we can all can do.
“A person interested in delivering hope could start small by talking to a local florist or grocery store and delivering to a single facility,” he says. “Like a flower, these things take time to blossom, but plant the seed and something beautiful will come out of it.”