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The Gift of Flowers

By Doris Steadman, MEd, MSW
Seamus and his team deliver flowers to residents at 30 facilities each week.

Seamus and his team deliver flowers to residents at 30 facilities each week.

Seamus (“Jim”) McDonnell will spend Mother’s and Father’s Day giving over 100 hugs and bouquets of flower to gracious recipients in retirement homes throughout the Coachella Valley. Many won’t even know his name, but will lovingly refer to him as “The Flower Man.”

For 13 years, Seamus has been bringing flowers, and much joy, to elderly folks in the Valley through his non-profit organization, The Flower Bank. He receives unsold flowers from Traders Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, Fresh & Easy and other stores and delivers them to hospice, nursing homes and care centers – every day of the week – with the help of 8 to 10 volunteers. They reach 30 care facilities weekly.

On these two special occasions in May and June, The Flower Bank will provide the residents of California Nursing Rehab Center, Palm Springs, and Atria Senior Living Center, Palm Desert with individual flowers arranged by color so they can create their own bouquets to keep or to share.

“When an individual creates their own bouquet, they experience an emotional release which encourages more socialization and interactions with others, just by sharing their creations,” says Seamus who created his non-profit after once asking for – and willingly receiving – bouquets for six patients in his care. The joy he received from their heartfelt responses became his passion.

To his knowledge, Seamus is the only person in America with a program like The Flower Bank. He has received numerous requests to expand to other cities; however, to pay for his endeavor, Seamus works nights as a registered nurse and respiratory therapist, and spends his days distributing flowers. Although the flowers he receives are free, distribution is not.

He doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon and hopes to generate additional funding to support the organization. “Many of our older citizens are lonely and forgotten, and the simple gift of flowers has a strong effect on their emotional state,” he says, noting a Rutgers University study that actually proved the fact that the gift of flowers brings a higher “Duchenne response” (genuine smile) and significantly elevates moods–more than any other gift.

Seamus describes walking through the corridors with his hands full of blossoms and hearing residents call out “It’s The Flower Man!”

And with that, you realize the gift goes both ways.

Happy Mother’s and Father’s Day to all! Remember those who may be alone. To assist Seamus in continuing to give the gift of flowers, please contact him at (310) 430.3269 or Jseamus@msn.com. The Flower Bank is a 501(c)3 non-profit (EIN # 47-2488433). For more information, visit Facebook.com/TheFlowerBank.

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