hope for the flowers

Partners Kelli Burns and Rose Davidson pick up centerpieces after charity events, rearrange the flowers and donate the flowers to senior living centers.

HOPE FOR THE FLOWERS About three years ago, Shadowlawn Avenue resident Rose Davidson was leaving a charity event when one of the event staff invited her to take a floral centerpiece home with her. Which got her to thinking: what do they do with those things, anyway? Perfectly good flower arrangements, used to beautify a dinner table for a few hours and then what?

She asked her friend Kelli Burns, who has a DJ and entertainment business for weddings and other events. Turns out a lot of them go straight into the trash.

So at her next event, Burns took home a few of the unwanted bouquets, and she and Davidson passed them along to a senior living center. The response they got from that one simple act of kindness made them want to do more.

“The more I thought about it,” says Burns, “I thought, ‘Why don’t we start our own outreach?’”

Burns and several of her colleagues in the entertainment business began collecting more and more of the centerpieces and storing them in Davidson’s garage for repurposing and delivery to the senior centers.

“Rose is very generous with her time,” Burns says. “She takes the time to share details of the event the flowers came from, and that will get conversations started and reminiscences of the residents’ own events.”

And so Centerpieces 4 Seniors was born.

Since June is prime wedding and graduation season, that’s when the Centerpieces 4 Seniors operation really ramps up, but Davidson and Burns are busy pretty much every weekend from May through November. Davidson has gotten lots of help with the labor-intensive process from her Shadowlawn neighbors. A typical weekend starts with volunteers making the rounds to pick up the donated flowers on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings. Then the volunteers arrange the flowers into vases purchased at thrift shops, and then the new arrangements make their way out into the community.

She also owes thanks to countless others who have contributed to the project, including Melissa Sacco-Pruitt from Blooming Dahlia and April  Schwietz Mason from Mocha Rose for flower donations, and Don Kucheck from the Village Square Home Depot for supplies. “Don hasn’t said no to anything,” Davidson says. “Shelves, supplies, whatever we need.”

The shelves live in Davidson’s garage, which has pretty much given up all notions of housing automobiles, as Centerpieces 4 Seniors can do as many as 125 vases in a weekend.

“This is our third year, and it has just grown and grown and grown,” Davidson says. “We have a wonderful volunteer group. The volunteers are the only reason it works.”

If you have some flower arrangements you’d like to donate, contact Kelli Burns at kelli@kelliburns.com, 412-716-6523 or Rose Davidson at rosedavidson611@gmail.com, 412-389-0019.