The Placer Herald – Brightening the day, one petal at a time

Brightening the day, one petal at a time

By: Susan Belknap for the Placer Herald

Jennifer Arey’s grandmother loved flowers. Before she passed away in 2012, Arey remembers picking roses from her grandmother’s garden in Granite Bay and the joy the flowers always gave her while she was under hospice care.

That simple act of giving flowers to someone during their final days is what inspired Arey to found The Petal Connection, a nonprofit organization in Rocklin that focuses on arranging and delivering fresh flowers to local hospice patients and seniors on a regular basis. Arey said it all began in 2013.

“I had heard about an organization called the Bloom Project that was based in Oregon,” said Arey. “I happened to meet Laura Kuntz at the gym and told her about it. She also lives in Granite Bay, and she’s a professional florist. We started talking and decided to form an association with the Bloom Project. We then started arranging flowers in my garage.”

After a few years as the Bloom Project, Arey decided to form The Petal Connection, which focuses its resources of flower arranging and delivering solely in the greater Sacramento region.

Kuntz is responsible for teaching the new volunteers the art of flower arranging, picks up flowers as needed and opens and closes the shop on Rocklin Road each Monday, among numerous other duties.

“When we all get together to arrange the flowers each week, you never know what donations we will have,” Kuntz said. “It’s always something new each week. I thoroughly enjoy my involvement with The Petal Connection. It fills such a need, and fresh flowers bring such a sense of joy.”

The Petal Connection relies solely on donations from the floral departments of local grocery stores and wholesale floral companies including Raley’s, Nugget Market, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Flora Fresh Inc. and Wholesale Flowers, to name a few. Several funeral homes as well as wedding venues also contribute flowers. Financially speaking, a few private foundations and individual donors contribute funds to help keep The Petal Connection operating.

There are fundraisers throughout the year too, including an event on March 23, when the organization will host “Dessert and Design.” For $40, attendees will learn how to make a floral arrangement to take home after dining on homemade desserts.

“We have also partnered with local hospice organizations like Bristol, Vitas, U.C. Davis, Sutter Health and Green Valley, as well as Eskaton and Sunrise Assisted Living. They are the recipients of what we make each week,” Arey said. “We’ve delivered more than 22,000 bouquets since we started The Petal Connection, averaging about 750-800 bouquets each month. It’s amazing how flowers can open up conversations. I remember with my grandmother how long those days were. Flowers can sometimes help you get through it all.”

Today The Petal Connection has more than 50 active volunteers who pick up and deliver flowers, as well as those men and women who get together twice a week in an empty storefront in Rocklin to assemble all them. And once they are delivered, Arey said she knows the flowers are appreciated by all the complimentary phone calls, emails and hand-written notes she receives on a regular basis...

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