One of the most expensive—and often most wasteful—aspects of weddings are the flowers. With hundreds of dollars poured into having fresh blooms to beautify the ceremony and reception, it’s a shame that with so many flowers left over after the big day they are often just left to wilt and die. But Eleanor Love, a former medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University, saw an opportunity in those wasted blooms. By showing up to local wedding venues and connecting with wedding coordinators to ask if she could stop by and collect the flowers after the grand event, she found a way to give the gorgeous blossoms new life by delivering them to hospital patients.
As a student, Love founded The Simple Sunflower, uniting a crew of volunteers to gather, repurpose, and deliver bouquets of fresh flowers leftover from weddings and other events to lonely patients who need cheering. Her dedicated helpers included fellow students, university employees, florists, and other locals who wanted to contribute. In the process of seeking to make a difference during her time as a medical student, she also managed to bring together a diverse group of people all uniting to serve and better their community.
For Love, being able to connect with patients, lift their spirits, and improve their hospital experience is one of the most rewarding aspects of founding The Simple Sunflower. And the flowers really do make a difference. According to several studies, flowers have the ability to significantly improve medical outcomes for patients—lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and pain, and speeding recovery.
“The Simple Sunflower reminds me of the humanity in medicine—that behind every diagnostic test and treatment plan there is a person,” Love tells My Modern Met. “We aim to alleviate suffering while providing comfort and joy to every patient who receives our bouquets. Our work promotes compassion and empathy, and this is something I will carry forward with me in my career as a physician… Creativity is an essential component of medicine and science, and I believe fostering my creativity through The Simple Sunflower makes me a stronger physician. Furthermore, I appreciate the natural beauty and symbolism of flowers, as do our volunteers and patients.”
Now as Love moves forward in her career as a doctor, her plans for The Simple Sunflower are growing along with her. Currently in the process of applying to make it an official registered nonprofit organization, she hopes to expand the project to other hospitals and cities as well.
If you are interested in helping out, then visit The Simple Sunflower’s website to learn more about how you can donate or get involved. To keep up with their progress, you can also follow them on Instagram and Twitter.
As a medical student, Eleanor Love founded The Simple Sunflower to bring hope and healing to hospital patients.