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The importance of growing kindness.

The Flower Project Foundation is a Brisbane-based, registered charity, growing kindness through flowers.

The Flower Project Foundation is a Brisbane-based, registered charity, growing kindness through flowers.

Volunteers deliver bouquets and a special message to people in need of kindness in their lives or deserve to be recognised for what they do for others

Recipients include the elderly, people who are isolated, physically or emotionally, carers and families of adults and children with special needs or illness and volunteers who assist in the relief of suffering. They represent some of the 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia or the millions of others facing challenging life situations such as poverty, social isolation, depression or anxiety, violence or traumatic events.

A gift of flowers and acknowledgement can provide an emotional boost to people that often feel forgotten by the community. It can help someone doing it tough, feel special, appreciated and uplifted.

Since its inception in 2011, the Flower Project has delivered more than 2,200 bouquets of kindness across South-East Queensland. It is almost entirely volunteer run and funded.

Founder, Shannon Yeardley’s story…

“… little moments of appreciation and acknowledgement could have a significant impact for someone who is facing lots of life challenges.”

Working as a Clinical Psychologist for many years, I was repeatedly touched by the stories of my clients and particularly those who were in caring roles. Unless you have been in that position or close to someone who has, it can be hard to fathom just how isolating and exhausting it can be at times.  Yet time and time again I saw that little moments of appreciation and acknowledgement could have a significant impact for someone who is facing lots of life challenges.

On another note, what I also noticed was that people who were able to divert their own struggles into making life kinder or happier for others (particularly through volunteering) can be one of the best forms of therapy in itself!

Personally, I love my garden and being connected to nature is really important to me. At a time that I was struggling in 2011, I did a short floral design course (just for fun!) and my house became filled with my “practice creations”. I thought that it would be amazing if I could find a way to connect something like a special bouquet with people who can really benefit from that little moment of acknowledgement from the community. I began making and delivering “bouquets of kindness” to organisations that I knew would be able to connect them with the perfect recipients (eg Meals on Wheels, Women’ s Shelters, Carers Support Groups).

In 2012, my “Flower Project” became a registered charity, The Flower Project Foundation – created purely to grow kindness. Isn’t it wonderful that little gestures (nominating a recipient, delivering a bouquet, sending a thank you card) can have such an impact and no matter what else is happening in our lives, we call have the potential to make a difference in so many ways.

Our “bank” of recipient comments and messages now numbers in the hundreds – nearly every day now we hear from one of our recipients or volunteers, or someone else in the community who has been connected to what we do. It is a powerful reminder that taking the time to provide that moment of appreciation, caring or sunshine to someone can have an impact far beyond just a small gesture.

“It is a powerful reminder that taking the time to provide that moment of appreciation, caring or sunshine to someone can have an impact far beyond just a small gesture.”

At times is has been tough – being completely honest, very tough. Like trying to build a business from scratch but with the complications of trying to find funding and with no resources for staff. The fact that the Foundation runs as beautifully as it does is a true credit to our volunteer team who have donated hundreds of hours of time, use of their own vehicle and who have also contributed support and inspiration.

Some of the highlights so far for me have been: Seeing the “post delivery buzz” our volunteers often experience; having people come up to me to share their stories after presentations; being surrounded by flowers on flower days; hearing recipient feedback; giving a workshop for a group of young teenage girls who were in caring roles and seeing them feel happy and comfortable creating with flowers; receiving a small cheque in the mail with a hand written letter and knowing that someone has taken the time to do that and believes in the project enough; seeing the Foundation run beautifully without me and knowing it is well on its way to becoming a true community project; seeing our volunteers benefit and grow in confidence from being involved in “growing kindness”!

You can help The Flower Project grow kindness by:

– Nominating a recipient (SE Qld only at the stage) – no cost and anonymous!

– Purchasing flowers to send via www.theflowerproject.org.au (proceeds help fund our bouquets of kindness)

– Attending a flower workshop (proceeds fund the Foundation)

– Donating or sponsoring a bouquet a month ($30 tax deductible) on behalf of your business or family

Visit www.theflowerproject.org.au and stay updated on facebook.com/theflowerproject.

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