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All smiles: Local florist brightens day for Orion seniors

July 28, 2010 - It worked. Dozens of seniors smiled, laughed and even hugged Beth Hency last week when they opened the door and found her waiting outside with fresh flowers.

Hency, who owns Amazing Petals Florist in Lake Orion, was participating in "Make Someone Smile Week," an annual community outreach program sponsored by Teleflora and member florists nationwide

After a big hug, Mary Malone, left, again thanks Beth Hency of Amazing Petals. Photo by Laura Colvin (click for larger version)
"Well, this just makes my day," said a smiling Mary Malone, a resident at Heritage Place Apartments in Lake Orion. "I had a terrible morning, but this cheers me right up."

She wasn't alone. One resident after the next beamed over the flowers as they thanked Hency - then thanked her again - and carried the cheerful arrangement back inside.

Make Someone Smile Week is aimed at just that, organizers said: Evoking a bit of happiness in nursing home residents, hospital patients and others who could benefit from a pick-me-up.

Last week's event marked the first time Hency participated in the program, she said, explaining she decided to distribute her arrangements at Heritage Place after getting a recommendation from now-and-then flower delivery man Bill Kokenos, a Lake Orion resident who volunteers regularly among the community's senior population.

Heritage Place is an apartment complex for low-income, elderly, but self-reliant individuals who meet certain criteria, and Hency thought Kokenos' recommendation turned out to be a good one.

"I had goose bumps the whole time," she said, noting that delivering the flowers door-to-door throughout the building was an experience "far better" than expected. "It was so wonderful to give people something for no reason - just to make them smile."

Flowers for the project are obtained through donations from local wholesalers. Nordlie's in Warren supplied Hency's flowers.

According to organizers, more than 22,000 florists across the country have donated time over the last decade to assemble and deliver more than 200,000 floral arrangements nationwide, and the program is growing; this year alone, Teleflora donated 50,000 of its "Be Happy" mugs for the project.

Locally, the project got started Sunday when about 30 florists met in Mount Morris to collaboratively create some 1,200 arrangements.

Thursday, Hency headed to Heritage.

"I think this is wonderful," said resident Jo Ellen Hall, pointing out the "pretty purple ones," an arrangement among many piled into a cart for delivery by Kevin Hency, 20, who spent the afternoon giving his mom a hand. "It's such a nice thing; these people are so kind."

Ready to prove her point, Kevin handed over the pretty purple ones, complemented with a smile of his own.

Lake Orion Review Editor
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