Spreading positivity, flowers for first responders

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — A local flower shop is looking to give back to the first responders who are risking their lives every day to keep us all safe, and they’re asking for your help to do it. 

A flower and your kind words can make all the difference.

“Something simple but it says a lot,” owner of Designing Dreams Floral Tonja VanderVeen said. “We want them to know how much we appreciate them, and the sacrifice that they make and the small way that we could, for obvious reasons, was flowers.”

VanderVeen has run her floral shop on the corner of Lake Michigan Drive and Wilson Avenue in Walker for more than a decade. Due to the executive order closing non-essential businesses, her shop shelves are barren — the only flowers inside are plastic. 

“There are none, none, none. I wish we had some,” VanderVeen said with a smile. “I wish we were here working. But yeah, we need to be safe and this is the situation we’re in.”

Floral shops have entered their busy season — the period from Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day and beyond. High School proms, graduations and wedding seasons now all flowerless. 

“What’s hard is I get a lot of phone calls asking, ‘can you please just deliver flowers, we want to thank a nurse that really was kind to my dad or my mom, we want to thank a doctor, and we can’t even do any of that anymore,” VanderVeen said. “We can’t sell anything, and we have no inventory to sell even if we could at this time.”

With time to think, VanderVeen started brainstorming. 

“In my mind’s eye, it’s the best love language to tell and show somebody something,” VanderVeen said. “You don’t have to say a word, you just hand them a flower and it’s like, oh! You know? Everybody loves it.”

When things calm down, VanderVeen plans to donate flowers and handwritten notes to Life EMS employees, Walker Fire and Police department staff personally. 

The catch, the notes come from you.

“So, what I need you guys all to do, I need you to help me out. So, if you’re bored, kids are bored; I need you to either post in the bottom below what you would like to say to a first responder thanking them for everything that they have done and everything that they are going through. They’re missing time with their families, they’re risking their health,” VanderVeen explained in a Facebook live video. “So, please share this. So that we get hundreds of them, because I would love to bring them to all our first responders after the quarantine is done. To thank each and every one of them for the sacrifices that they made for us.”

The comments have come in by the hundreds already.

“We want to celebrate and saturate the city with flowers, you know, thanking those first responders,” VanderVeen said. “We love our community here. We love our first responders, the fireman and the policemen in this area are awesome people.”

When this display of love and appreciation will take place is still yet to be determined, however, you can write a kind word yourself on the Facebook page or mail your own letter to Designing Dream Floral at 4335 Lake Michigan Dr. Grand Rapids, MI 49534.