It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to a close and the days have already begun to shorten. As we reflect on the past three months since our last newsletter, it is no surprise that the summer has flown by! We hope you will enjoy taking a minute to read about the many wonderful things going on in our organization. Sure, delivering bouquets to more than 7,000 people these past three months blows us away, and there is so much to share and many days feel like a flower frenzy. But, it is the simple moments of connection that remind us why Random Acts of Flowers is needed more than ever.
Often, when we go on a delivery, the flowers, while gorgeous, are never even mentioned. Instead, they are the way in to a stranger’s life and the medium to tell them we care. On one recent delivery, we met a man who hadn’t had a visitor in over a month. He immediately took out a deck of cards and shared magic tricks. He later told us that this was the best day he had since arriving for rehabilitation. Another woman, who refused the flowers, chatted with me for a half hour, sharing stories of her grandfather’s lilac bushes and how he called her his “Lilac Girl.” We get so caught up in the “how” sometimes, but we should never forget the “why” of what we do.
As always, I would like to thank the many individuals who volunteer tirelessly. Without their support, we could not celebrate the impact we are seeing daily of how a simple gesture of kindness can change the world. And, thank you for your continued support of our mission!
On August 10th, we bid a fond farewell and best wishes to Sydney Werd, as she left her role as Program Director to pursue a career in education. Sydney has been a vibrant, dedicated, & generous member of our team from her first day, and we will all miss her can-do spirit, hard work, energy, great ideas, and leadership! We send our best wishes as she moves on to her future endeavors!
And, we are happy to announce that our dear driver, Chris Haas, has won a position with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra! Chris has served RAF these past two years with integrity and an amazing work ethic. We will miss his can-do attitude, efficiency, and sense of humor. We wish him nothing but the best of luck and are thankful he will be sticking around as his schedule permits.
AND, TWO WARM WELCOMES
Lotte Vonk will be taking on the role of Program and Volunteer Coordinator, and she has jumped into the day-to-day of the workshop with enthusiasm. She's a photographer, too, and looks forward to taking great shots of our mission in action! Be sure to say "hi" to her the next time you pay us a visit!
And, Cristina "Cris" Santoro also joins the RAF Chicago team as our new Development Manager. In her role, Cris will be helping to raise funds to support the growth of the organization. Cris comes to us with a background in sales at Grainger and currently sits on the boards of Rogers Park Food Co-Op and Action for Healthy Kids.
YOU WILL BE PAID BACK MANY TIMES OVER
Volunteer Nancy Knollenberg joined the RAF Chicago team in 2016 after hearing a presentation at her garden club meeting. To her, the simple mission for bringing joy and smiles to people experiencing health struggles just made sense, and she couldn't wait to get involved.
And, RAF's mission holds a personal connection for her. "When I was very young my Mother was gravely ill. To this day, I reflect on how our kind and generous friends, family, and community took care of my Father and my three sisters during that difficult period of our lives.
Those acts of kindness made a big impact on a very young girl, and I promised myself I would always be kind to others."
On August 9th, the amazing Daniel Dugo from Joseph’s Events led our summer session of Flowers After Hours. Our guests enjoyed a fun evening of floral arranging, laughter, and giving back to our community.
Daniel also shared some great tips with our guests that we wanted to pass along to our newsletter readers -
If you're budget conscious, buy greens. They're gorgeous and they last forever!
When arranging, start with a base of greenery to create a web that will keep your stems in place.
Hydrangeas are a great base flower. Cut a hydrangea at the base of your vase and stick other stems through the gaps in the bloom.
Arrange your flowers in "3s" or odd numbers of stems.
"You can't go wrong with flowers - they all make you happy!"
SAVE THE DATES FOR OUR NEXT
FLOWERS AFTER HOURS
Tuesday, Oct 30: BOO-quets Carve out and arrange a floral centerpiece in a mini-pumpkin!
And yes, costumes are encouraged!
Saturday, Nov 10: Vases for Vets Make red, white, and blue arrangements for Veterans Hospital patients.
All ages welcome!
Stay tuned for more information and links to buy tickets! Coming very soon!
SUMMERTIME AND THE GIVING IS EASY
We have enjoyed a full and busy summer here at RAF Chicago!
On top of fulfilling our regular mission of delivering hope, we -
honored THE BRIGHTEST WEEK on June 17-23, delivering special bouquets to recipients affected by Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. These special deliveries were supported by funding from Eli Lilly and Company.
displayed an informational and interactive art exhibit at the First Bank of Highland Park, thanks to amazingly talented volunteers and a preserved moss wall donation from HMR Design.
received and processed THOUSANDS of blossoms following the International Floriculture Expo at McCormick Place, thanks to a generous donation from Reebie Allied Moving and Storage. Bouquets were delivered to 1,799 people in 37 facilities!
traveled to RAF's National HQ in Knoxville, TN, at the end of July for a few days of leadership training and a celebration honoring the organization's 10th birthday!
spent an afternoon arranging flowers for delivery with shoppers at Macy*s Old Orchard.
hosted a variety of awesome business and community groups, including ComEd, Food for Thought, Whitney Young High School, Accenture, and a lovely group of ladies celebrating a bridal shower.
took the show on the road to three of Aetna’s Chicagoland offices to engage employees in floral arranging. Bouquets were delivered to Evanston, Northwestern, and UIC hospitals.
Click the image to see Aetna's Day-of-Service in Action!
CLEAR EYES AND OPEN HEARTS
Accuity - a Chicago-based business software firm - has embraced delivering hope as part of their corporate ethos, participated in days-of-service at our workshop and fundraising for our mission within the greater community.
For our Summer newsletter, Sarah Libbing from Accuity told us a little more about why the Random Acts of Flowers mission speaks to the Accuity team and to her personally. Because, after a floral arranging event hosted by her employer, Sarah began to volunteer at RAF after work, and she helped arrange a second Accuity day-of-service with their Women's Network.
Sarah says Accuity is attracted to the RAF mission because "we are able to help in all aspects of the mission - floral arranging, delivery, even hosting vase drives. This is a great way for us to involve a variety of members of our business to come together for the community. I love the floral arranging aspect because it gives me a sense of community and a creative outlet that normally I wouldn't use in my day-to-day life."
Sarah's family inspired her love for flowers, and credits them for teaching her to "lend a hand and make everyone feel welcome, making everyone feel a little love and connection. RAF's mission is a gesture that [tells someone], you're not alone or forgotten; you still matter and we want you to feel that way."
And, Accuity's dedication to delivering hope doesn't stop at our workshop doors.
Sarah reports that "the Accuity Women's Network hosted our 2nd Annual Wine Charity Event on August 9th. We raised almost $2,000 for RAF and collected 30+ vases." Accuity plans to do more events with RAF, and Sarah credits her fellow employees, the Accuity leadership team, and local Evanston businesses for their success.
Deliveries of Hope 107,000+ in Chicago 350,000+ Nationwide
Vases Recycled 81,500+ in Chicago 369,000+ Nationwide
Volunteer Hours 38,000+ in Chicago 166,500+ Nationwide
Megan & Francis Beidler
John & Vicki Bitner
M. Block and Sons, Inc.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
David & Denise A Bunning
Butler Family Foundation
Crown Family Philanthropies
Kent & Liz Dauten
Deerpath Garden Club of Lake Forest
Craig & Janet Duchossois
First Bank of Highland Park Foundation
Beverly F. Forman Revocable Trust
Foundation for Advancing Technology & Community Giving (IDT Technologies)
Fresenius Kabi USA
The Grainger Foundation
Highland Park Community Foundation
Larsen & Adrian Jay
Cheryl & Mark Kaplan
Judy & John Keller
The Keller Family Foundation
King Family Foundation
Legacy Healthcare Financial Services
Lincolnshire Garden Club
Lincolnwood Garden Club
Lise & Mark Lutz
Brooke & Duncan MacLean
Nature's Perspective Landscaping
Debra & Mike Pelech
Gordon & Carole Segal
Anna & Dr. Mark Siegler