Meet the Young Woman Helping Others Smile, One Bouquet at a Time!

Eleanor Love knows that flowers have the power to bring joy to people.

Jul 20, 2021
Special Collections: CHANGEMAKERS
Meet the Young Woman Helping Others Smile, One Bouquet at a Time! | Eleanor Love knows that flowers have the power to bring joy to people.

This young doctor’s mission is simple but genius: she turns something old into something new. Here’s how. She collects leftover fresh flowers from weddings and rearranges them into beautiful bouquets for re-gifting to hospital patients. 

But in this simple gesture of giving gorgeous flowers to lonely hospital patients, she is also gifting a healthy dose of instant happiness, bringing joy to her smiling recipients.

The floral passion of the appropriately named Ms. Love all started two years ago when she was a medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, reports the Washington Post

Inspired by hearing about the regifting of flowers happening on the West Coast, and equipped with the hacks to create a beautiful flower arrangement from her part time job at a floral shop before medical school, she decided to add some joy into patients’ lives. She would give them gorgeous blooms repurposed from local nuptials. The importance of a positive impact on patients, teamwork and sustainability were always front and center in her mind.

Love explains in her organization’s video above, how she started to float the idea by members of the community who have events. And about the lush flowers that go to waste after them. She was convinced that she could impact the lives of patients who could appreciate their beauty and symbolism, and so it began.

This spark bloomed into The Simple Sunflower, the organization she set up that makes it all happen. Today, Love and her team of volunteers are delivering flower arrangements re-gifted to hospital patients at VCU Health Center, in Richmond. As their website explains, their mission is uplifting so we’re reporting it in full:

“Inspired by the simple joy of receiving flowers, we are dedicated to bringing happiness and hope into the lives of people enduring or recovering from illness in Richmond, VA. We transport the beauty and vitality of nature indoors by partnering with VCU Health Volunteer Services to deliver flowers directly to patients’ rooms, ensuring each bouquet is personally gifted to an individual. Our aim is to brighten and comfort each patient’s stay while contributing to the sustainability of our community by repurposing florals.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Simple Sunflower (@the.simple.sunflower)

So how does it work? Love’s contact person will alert the team when there is a wedding happening where the couple has agreed to donate their flowers, and this goes onto their calendar. She reaches out to her volunteers some days in advance to notify them of a flower pickup for the day after the wedding. 

During the pickup, a group meets up at the site and the volunteers are told how to pick out the freshest, best flowers with long stems and tight blooms that are likely to last. These flowers are brought back to the hospital where one of the volunteer office spaces is transformed into a bouquet-making hub. Added to each bouquet is a pretty tag from The Simple Flower with a few handwritten words from the volunteers so patients know that they are really there for them

The following day, the flowers are distributed to patients. Love explained to NBC12 that their first priority is giving them to patients receiving palliative care who are nearing the end of life.  Then “the extra bouquets that we create are distributed throughout the hospital including to COVID patients,” she adds.

Why did Love name her organization “The Simple Sunflower”? As she explains in their video: “I have always been drawn to sunflowers as a flower type because I think they represent a lot of positivity.” She chose the word simple because it feels accessible and because for her it’s an antidote to the complicated world of medicine. 

Love also shares that her family think that this work suits her personality perfectly.  She speaks proudly of the wonderful feedback from the recipients and their families, but also from the couples who are thrilled that they are putting the flowers from their big day to good use.

For Love, her work with The Simple Sunflower reminds her of the “humanism that’s in medicine” as reported by NBC12.  She says that giving back to patients in this way fulfils a different need that’s more about donation and gratitude. “People are excited about it. That’s definitely the end goal that we’re always working toward. My work with The Simple Sunflower reminds me that there is a person and a human being behind every medical test that you do… and to me that means the most.” 

With her upcoming move to Portland, Oregon, where she will start her residency in diagnostic radiology, Love hopes to take the project to more cities and medical schools, reported Arkansas Online

Perhaps this is because she never fails to be moved by the happiness that is clearly evident in the faces of bouquet recipients. As she says to this publication: “Being able to help deliver the flowers to those patients is very meaningful because you just see those patients’ faces light up… You connect with them on a different level.”

Should Pediatricians Prescribe Kindness?
Good Deeds Day 2021 Follow Up: Doing Good Just Keeps Getting Better!
New Survey Reveals That Kindness is Doing Great!

Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.
Special Collection