Because Char Smiled
This project began about a year ago. My mother’s friend Char was being treated at Roswell Park and she went there to visit Char and bring her flowers. However, the flowers weren’t permitted in her room due to the health risk that they possess. I distinctly remember my mom’s sadness about having to go in with nothing and never giving her friend the flowers as a symbol of comfort.
It led to restlessness that night; I kept thinking that other people must have been in the same situation. Flowers have been proven to positively impact someone’s state of mind, which can in turn affect their health. It was disheartening to know that some people couldn’t receive that. There must have been some way to solve this, to give those patients a symbol of love and hope like a regular bouquet would…
The thought struck like lightning and I eagerly told my mom. While she didn’t quite grasp the enormity of the project unfolding in my mind, it was the beginning of “Because Char Smiled.” The idea was to make paper flowers for patients to let them know that others cared, to try and brighten their day. For six months paper flowers were “blooming” in spare time--folding paper on the school bus, cutting petals after finishing work in school, and doing more throughout summer. The garden grew to several hundred flowers, each hand cut, wrapped, and finished with a bow. My mom was beginning to see the vision. She encouraged me to keep going, and to contact Roswell Park to donate them.
We were fortunate that Melissa Holmes at WGRZ wanted to do a story. We thought it would be great if the community got involved and helped to make flowers, too. Since her story aired, Girl Scouts, church groups, school clubs and classes, as well as kind-hearted individuals began to reach out, wanting to help. With their assistance, Because Char Smiled has collected in total over one thousand beautiful flowers for Roswell Park patients.
The overwhelming support has been truly heartwarming. Knowing that so many people are willing to give their time to help others makes me proud of our community. Seeing the results of this collective effort is a wonderful privilege as well; it is a humbling experience to spread happiness, to share a little bit of light, to give back. Nothing else can compare.
It is my hope that support will continue to grow, and with it our garden. That way, more patients can receive these symbols of love and healing in the future.