For those in the hospital, any thoughtful gesture can be a ray of light, or at least a reminder that they are loved and cared for.
When medical student Eleanor Love dug into the scientific research on this, she was surprised to find what a dramatic effect human contact and nature can have on patients’ mood and recovery, according to The Atlantic.
Inspired by these findings and similar programs around the country, she founded The Simple Sunflower, a volunteer group that repurposes the flowers from weddings and other events, turning them into bouquets for patients in palliative care at the VCU Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia.
“I’ve always loved flowers – in fact, I had a sunflower patch as a kid,” Love told the VCU School of Medicine on Instagram. “Knowing Richmond is home to many weddings in addition to our big medical center, I started regifting wedding flowers to patients in the hospital. With that, The Simple Sunflower began.”
From those humble beginnings, The Simple Sunflower has continued to bloom, with over 800 bouquets delivered to patients as of July 20th! The group coordinates with generous donors that are having events in the area to pick up the flowers after the event has ended, then trims, arranges, and delivers them as a team.
Love, who graduated medical school and started a radiology residency at Oregon Health & Science University this year, has been understandably busy with both her career and The Simple Sunflower. Fortunately, the organization has a solid team and a steady stream of volunteers to make sure the work gets done. They’re even applying for nonprofit status, and their current fundraiser is just shy of its goal to cover those costs.
For now, they continue to be focused on the Richmond area and the VCU Medical Center in particular. Still, anyone can get involved, either by donating money, the flowers from a Richmond-area event, or necessities like vases.