A very vulnerable segment of the Indianapolis community — those struggling with injury, illness and the aging process — will receive much-needed hope and health benefits thanks to a national not-for-profit agency now serving Indianapolis.

“The mission of Random Acts of Flowers is so simple, yet its impact is huge,” said Lee Ann Blue, chief nursing officer and executive vice president of patient care services of Eskenazi Health, where 75 patients received the first delivery of repurposed floral bouquets this morning from the new Random Acts of Flowers Indianapolis branch. “Flowers have been proven to positively affect a person’s overall health in a number of ways. For that reason, we view this partnership with Random Acts of Flowers as a great benefit to our patients and our medical staff as well as to our community.”
  
Founded in 2008 in Knoxville, Tenn., Random Acts of Flowers (RAF) focuses on its mission to improve the emotional health and wellbeing of individuals in healthcare and assisted living facilities across the country by delivering recycled flowers, encouragement and personal moments of kindness. The new Indianapolis facility, located in the SoBro area, is the organization’s fifth branch, with RAF also serving Tampa Bay, Chicago and Silicon Valley in addition to Knoxville.

RAF Indianapolis expects to serve nearly 12,000 individuals in area healthcare and senior care facilities in its first year. In addition to Eskenazi Health, St. Vincent Health, IU Health and Community Health also have signed on as healthcare partners with RAF Indianapolis, along with Brookdale Senior Living, with more to be added in the coming weeks. Flowers for today’s first deliveries were repurposed from floral stock from RAF’s national partner FTD/ProFlowers. Ongoing, RAF Indianapolis also will create beautiful bouquets from flowers recycled from weddings, special events and memorial services and unsold florals from grocers, local florists including retailer McNamara Florists and wholesaler Kennicott Brothers, and the FTD/ProFlowers distribution center in Richmond. Vases for the deliveries also are donated from the community and repurposed by RAF Indianapolis.

“We take what would otherwise end up in a landfill and transform it into beautiful bouquets to provide an unexpected surprise and emotional lift to people in a time of need,” said Larsen Jay, who conceived the idea of Random Acts of Flowers while recuperating from a near-death accident. “This is something that is very personal to me, because I have experienced the healing benefits of flowers myself and have seen it a thousand times over in the faces of those who have received a bouquet from Random Acts of Flowers.”

Multiple studies indicate that the mere presence of flowers in a patient’s hospital room can, in the words of researchers from Rutgers University, become “a powerful positive emotion inducer” that improves mood and long-term episodic memory in elderly patients. A 2009 study from researchers at Kansas State University found that “patients in rooms with plants and flowers had significantly shorter hospitalizations, lower ratings of pain, anxiety and fatigue, and more positive feelings” when compared to patients in a control group. Most recently in a study conducted earlier this year at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, 95% of respondents reported that the unexpected delivery from Random Acts of Flowers improved their overall wellness, with 73.5% reporting “extreme improvement.” Further, the UTMC study reaffirmed that RAF is serving patients who typically are not getting this sort of encouragement, with more than 80% of respondents reporting they had not received other gifts of flowers outside of the RAF delivery, and 11% stating that the RAF volunteers were the only visitors they had during their hospital stay.

“I never dreamed this idea borne from my hospital room nine years ago would spread the way it has,” Jay said. “But thanks to the tremendous leadership of this community, we now are able to bring our mission to Indianapolis.”

Run largely by a dedicated corps of volunteers, Random Acts of Flowers has more than 2,000 volunteers nationwide who have served more than 155,000 people in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living and hospices across the country. The agency also has recycled more than 180,000 vases, repurposed countless bows and card picks and composted tons of green waste.

The new RAF Indianapolis branch has a small staff of three and is actively recruiting volunteers to assist with floral pickups, floral preparation, arranging bouquets, driving, personal deliveries and miscellaneous assistance in the facility.