Surprise delivery makes veterans smile

by Town Reminder

Flowers A
By Kristin Will

Staff Writer

HOLYOKE – Armed with more than 275 flowers and plants, Carey’s Flowers staff set out to put smiles on the faces of Holyoke Solders’ Home residents Wednesday. Little did they know, those residents would return the gesture.
The South Hadley flower business participated in “Make Someone Smile Week” by camping out at the Solders’ Home and handing out bouquets and plant arrangements to every resident they saw, while thanking the veterans for their service.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Owner Seth Carey of the surprise event. “It was neat to see their faces light up and just see their surprise that the flowers were actually meant for them.”
Each year, Carey’s picks an organization to surprise during “Make Someone Smile Week” through a national campaign by Teleflora. This was the first year the flower shop chose the Holyoke Soldier’s Home. But it definitely won’t be the last, said Carey.
“I had a personal meaning behind it,” he said. Carey’s great uncle was a resident at the Home.
“And once we were there,” he said, “we discovered there were a lot of familiar faces of people that used to be our customers.”
Not only did Carey’s staff members set up base in the building’s main entrance, but Soldiers’ Home staff members brought flowers and plants to every single resident in each room of the floors above.
“It made me feel good knowing that it definitely did bring a smile to somebody’s face,” said Carey. He enjoyed “just handing somebody a plant or a flower in nice container and the way their faces would light up. They were actually waiting in line for their plants,” he said.
The simple gesture was dually rewarding.
“I don’t know who was smiling more – the people receiving them or the people giving them,” said Carey.
John Paradis, communications director at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, said the delivery meant more to residents than met the eye.
Often in summer, residents’ families head out on vacation and visits to the Soldiers’ Home fall by the wayside. “So for Seth and his folks to come by and connect with us is very special,” he said. “He made a big impression with our veterans, that’s for sure.”
The gift of time spent with Soldiers’ Home veterans, even with the simple act of handing out flowers, is priceless.
“Visiting our veterans is a highlight of their day – as we tell people, giving of your time is often the best gift our veterans receive. Visiting and talking to our veterans means so much,” said Paradis. “For all of us at the Home, it’s an honor to take care of our veterans, and for members of the community to come in and show their appreciation helps us with making the Home a special place to live.”
Paradis called Carey’s act “a wonderful sentiment” and a “very nice act of kindness.” To think of the Soldiers’ Home veterans “was special,” he said.