RICHMOND, Virginia – The hospital stay can be a real strain on patients, but Eleanor Love adorns the rooms at VCU Medical Center with beautiful flower arrangements.
During her time as a VCU medical student in 2019, Love wanted to find a way to give back to her patients.
“I didn’t have a lot of medical knowledge at this stage of my medical training,” said Love.
But she knew a lot about flowers since she worked in a flower shop before studying medicine.
“It was a bit on my radar and I thought, why don’t we bring the flowers that are normally thrown away after a wedding to our patients in the hospital,” noted Love.
Over the past two years, she and her team of volunteers – now known as The Simple Sunflower – have visited dozens of wedding venues after the big day, turning arrangements into more than 700 bouquets for patients with problems.
“It helps to lift patients’ spirits and calm them down,” said Love. “It reminds you that someone is thinking of you and taking care of you, and it distracts you from your illness for a few moments.”
Brides and grooms like Haleigh and Joe McCahon make The Simple Sunflower endeavors possible. The University of Richmond alumni got married last month at the Commonwealth Club in downtown Richmond.
Kim Moody Design’s florist Kim Moody helped the couple donate their flowers, creating more than two dozen bouquets for VCU patients.
“Joe and I are both healthcare professionals,” said Haleigh. “And we’ve seen firsthand how simple kindnesses like The Simple Sunflower can really make a big difference. We’re really grateful that we were able to share something from one of the happiest days of our lives to help them brighten their hospital stay. “
There are dozens more patients who could use a little hope, so Love’s work continues. She raised just enough money to apply for nonprofit status.
“I am thrilled to have the support of so many volunteers who really made this happen and who really helped us get started because without them and the partnerships we have built with community businesses like the florists and the venues , who we work with and the newlyweds who donate their flowers, we wouldn’t be where we are today, “explained Love.
Love is currently in her first year of residency at Riverside Regional Medical Center at Newport News, but she is still returning to Richmond to lead The Simple Sunflower and train new volunteers.
If you’re getting married in Richmond and want to donate your flowers, or if you’d like to volunteer for The Simple Sunflower, please click here for more information.