Church volunteers say it with flowers

Valentine bouquets cheer nursing homes

February 14, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Nearly 102, Rose Sudmeier still feels a thrill when she receives flowers for Valentine's Day.

"You are never too old," said Sudmeier, a resident of Oakland Manor Assisted Living in Sykesville. "There is nothing like pretty live flowers."

She was among 700 seniors to have bouquets delivered this week, gifts from volunteers at St. Joseph Catholic Community in Eldersburg.

Firmly clutching the bud vase and chatting amiably between gentle whiffs of floral scent, Sudmeier said, "I have no other valentines. There are not many people around who would send them to me. I hope these people come back for my birthday next month."

The volunteers, members of Sheen's Colleens, the women's auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus, wanted to ensure that no one was forgotten on Valentine's Day 2002, the third year that they have organized the giveaway in South Carroll.

About 25 members put together 700 fresh bouquets - nearly 200 more than last year - in about three hours Sunday evening. They filled bud vases with greenery, baby's breath, colorful carnations or daisies and finished each bouquet with a lacy doily and brief Valentine's Day wishes.

"We had a real production line going," said Brenda Watson, co-chairwoman of the event. "Everybody pitched in."

Jumping in to help

Emma DiMaio said: "All the new members just jumped right in to help. It went so quickly, we even had time to share a light supper."

St. Joseph parishioners donated $1,100 to the effort, and two Eldersburg florists - Rippel's and Hutchinson's - provided materials at cost.

Hallmark, the greeting card company, predicts that 163 million cards will be exchanged today, and the Society of American Florists estimates that 103 million roses will be purchased.

"This is a wonderful program that touches so many," said volunteer Doris Wagner. "We all feel fortunate that we are able to do this. The feeling that you get back is so much more than you give."

They delivered the vases to nursing homes Tuesday.

Oakland Manor was the first of nine stops.

Resident Idella Edmondson, 78, said the flowers will help her recover from a stroke more quickly. She placed her bouquet of pale pink carnations on her dresser "right there with my cards and where I can see them." When she mentioned that bright red was her favorite color, the volunteers gave her a second vase for good measure.

A surprise of flowers

Dorothy Peters, 79, was sitting by herself at a dining room table when Watson placed a bouquet in front of her.

"You are giving me this? Oh, thank you," she said. "Can you put it in my room for me? My room will look so pretty."

Fairhaven Retirement Community and Copper Ridge, a facility for patients with dementia, were the next stops and the recipients of more than 200 bouquets.

"Our residents so appreciate the thoughtfulness, that someone took time to do something pleasant for them," said Stephen Vozzella, director of activities and volunteer services at Copper Ridge. "I remember from last year that these bouquets lasted a long time."

Audrey Baker, 77, ushered a group into her room and showed them the Valentine's Day decoration her daughter had done. She placed her flowers by a bulletin board filled with hearts.

"I like getting any kind of present, especially the unexpected ones," Baker said. "This surprise just made my day. I always loved flowers and gardened whenever I could."

At Fairhaven, many residents were out, but volunteer Jean O'Sullivan, who wore a bright red crocheted heart on her shirt, made sure every room received flowers.

"We don't want anyone left out," she said.

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