By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Once cut, fresh flowers have only so much time to brighten the world.
Tina Barber started Blooms of Grace to draw that time out a little longer.
“We ask brides to donate their residual flowers,” she said. “It’s the simplest idea to give back. The flowers are recycled.”
After a wedding or other event, Barber, 42, stops by the venue and collects the flowers, then brings them to her Tupelo home. On Sundays and Mondays, she arranges the flowers into 26 vases.
She picks up her daughter, Ella, 6, after school on Mondays, and they visit Sanctuary Hospice House in Tupelo and Community Hospice in Verona.
“We have a little wagon that we pull up the hallways,” she said. “They let us look through the doorway.”
For the past six weeks or so, 16 hospice patients at Sanctuary and 10 at Community have gotten fresh flowers by their beds.
“One gentleman, it was very close to his time. It was like, Oh, God, am I doing the right thing?” Barber said. “His wife called later and said her husband didn’t know the flowers were there, but his family did. I get so choked up whenever I think about it.”
Barber’s main helper is Ella, who has an eye for arranging flowers.
“She has to look at every one of the flowers in the face,” Barber said. “When she’s finished, she’ll spin the vase around, making sure it’s perfect.”
Barber’s other helpers are the people who donate flowers from their special events.
The idea for Blooms of Grace came from an article she read about six years ago. Ella was new to the world then, and Barber had a 2-year-old son, Chip. She tucked the article into her inspiration folder.
Recently, the plan’s been popping back to mind, so she was ready when she met designer Tracy Proctor about six weeks ago. He liked the idea and suggested it to his clients.
“No one said, ‘No, I want my flowers back,'” he said. “Really, this gift is not from me, but from the families, and Tina’s just been deliberate and so diligent about this.”
Barber has made contact with Link Centre and a variety of florists, but there’s always room for more support.
She’d like to get flowers to at-home hospice patients, but that’ll require more flowers and more manpower.
“This could be a senior project. This could be a Girl Scout troop’s project,” Barber said. “We’ll welcome anyone who wants to help.”
Her wish list includes a standup cooler to keep flowers fresh longer and a van to make deliveries easier, but she’s not waiting for perfect conditions. She and Ella, as well as caring brides, are giving what they can.
“It doesn’t have to be a wedding. It can be any event,” she added. “I pick them up on Sunday. Somebody in hospice care is going to have a bouquet of beautiful flowers on Monday.”