(Photo above | by Byron Roe Photography)
Creating affiliate partnerships with St. Charles Hospice & Palliative Care as well as Touchmark at Mount Bachelor Village on behalf of Partners in Care.
Almost ten years ago, a few friends gathered together to discuss how they could make a difference in Central Oregon, most specifically in the lives of hospice patients. We believed that many of these patients and families spent time alone, waiting for the inevitable to occur. It was our desire to bring a bit of beauty and joy into their lives, encouraging this special group of individuals during a difficult time.
From here, our mission was seeded and The Bloom Project was planted — the patients became our “Why” the gift of flowers our “How.”
We began to share the idea with local grocers and florists and quickly stores such as Trader Joe’s and Newport Avenue Market agreed to donate flowers that would otherwise be disposed of or composted. Volunteers would then sort through them, select only the best and repurpose the flowers and greens into beautiful, fresh bouquets delivered to our partner hospice organizations to distribute to patients in their homes and care facilities.
Our first relationship with a hospice organization was formed with Partners in Care in 2008, followed by St. Charles Hospice, as well as Heart n’ Home Hospice and Palliative Care. As we added new hospice partners, we continued to source additional flowers from grocers including: Safeway (Westside & Eastside), Fred Meyer (Bend & Redmond), Whole Foods, Albertsons and Market of Choice.
Gracious and generous business owners began to contribute everything from the use of a workspace (Cascade Village Shopping Center) to garbage and compost services (Bend Garbage & Recycling) to PSAs (BendBroadband). Vases, supplies, meeting spaces (Brooks Resources Corporation) and professional services were donated as well. Many Central Oregon businesses provided support through sponsorships and donations.
Between 2009-16, The Bloom Project Central Oregon donated more than 58,000 bouquets with over 33,000 volunteer hours.
During 2015-16, The Bloom Project experienced a downturn in foundation support, corporate sponsorships and individual giving. As the board of directors analyzed the situation, it became apparent that we could no longer operate the Central Oregon project in the same manner. We began to explore transitioning the current model into several affiliate Bloom Projects in the effort to reduce overhead while continuing the mission without interruption.
Within the first two quarters of 2017, The Bloom Project created two affiliate partnerships with St Charles Hospice & Palliative Care, as well as at Mount Bachelor Village on behalf of Partners in Care. Each affiliate project runs separately from one another and maintains the same standards and mission of The Bloom Project.
Bloom Project volunteers have signed up to contribute their time and talents each week covering the bases for both projects. Cascade Village Shopping Center has generously agreed to continue the donation of workspace to The Bloom Project – St Charles Hospice. And, Touchmark is hosting a Bloom Project (on behalf of Partners in Care) on their campus in Bend.
This model creates a partnership between The Bloom Project and each participating nonprofit hospice organization. The Bloom Project coaches and trains the affiliate partners how to procure flowers and vases, train volunteers, set up a workspace and maintain quality of the bouquets being gifted.
The Bloom Project affiliates are powered by volunteers, overseen by a volunteer coordinator and operated under the respective affiliate’s 501c3, thus keeping costs to a minimum for the affiliate and lean for The Bloom Project itself. The Bloom Project provides the training needed to establish the project along with ongoing support and resourcing. Approved affiliates are licensed to use The Bloom Project’s registered name and mark on its website, newsletters and floral inserts that accompany each bouquet delivered to a patient. Together, the affiliate and The Bloom Project can increase impact while keeping expenses to a minimum for each project.
The Bloom Project has recently announced its partnership with Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco and is preparing to pilot another affiliate project on the Oregon Coast.
It is the vision of The Bloom Project to share what we have learned with other communities so they too can benefit from the beauty of flowers while caring for those in hospice and palliative care.
The Bloom Project will continue delivering beauty and joy to hospice and palliative care patients within Central Oregon as well as Portland, Oregon and beyond. The affiliate model will begin accepting new applications from non-profit hospice organizations sometime during 2018.
Heidi Berkman, founder, The Bloom Project. 100 SW Miller Road, Portland, OR 97225, 541-241-8845, www.TheBloomProject.org