FARGO - After a wedding, most of the bouquets and floral arrangements are tossed in the trash. But Kelly Krenzel has found a way to extend their life so they give more people joy.
This summer, the 34-year-old Fargo woman started a volunteer project called Hope Blooms, which repurposes donated event flowers into individual bouquets to be given to people to help brighten their days.
Krenzel, her husband and her team of volunteers deliver the arrangements to assisted-living facilities, memory care units, Hospice of the Red River Valley (where she works as a marketing and communications specialist) and more.
A couple months ago, Kriston Wenzel, who works in the bereavement department at HRRV, brought Hope Blooms flowers on her Meals on Wheels delivery route. The response from the recipients was heartening.
"Delivering the food is in itself a great thing, and most of the recipients are waiting at the door for us," she says, "so when we added the beauty of Kelly's flowers, it was amazing."
Wenzel says it took a couple minutes for them to realize the flowers were for them. One of the women, who seldom gets up to greet the Meals on Wheels volunteers, got out of her chair and gave Wenzel "the biggest hug."
When Krenzel receives flowers - usually from brides and grooms, but occasionally from other event organizers - she has to work quickly. She wants the flowers to be as fresh as possible when they're delivered.
She's currently working out of her home, but by late fall or early winter, she'll be able to use the space at the new Love Always Floral shop.
Love Always owner Christy Tehven met Krenzel through the 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program and encouraged her to pursue the idea.
"I was just starting my floral shop at the time, and it seemed like the perfect merge of the two," Tehven says. "The idea came from an email, and I said, 'Let's go for it!' "
Delivering flowers to the elderly was a natural fit for Krenzel, who says she's always loved both. When she was growing up in Bismarck, she spent summers with her grandmother, who taught her how to garden and passed on her green thumb.
"I would work on her flower beds all week. We'd start on a Monday, and I'd be weeding, and by the end of the week, I'd get to all of them," she says.
Working at HRRV has shown her firsthand the impact a small gesture can have on someone's day.
Krenzel, who works full time and has an infant son, says Hope Blooms gives her the opportunity to give back out of the comfort of her own home and within her busy schedule. She encourages others to do the same.
"It's within all of our reach to do something kind," she says, "and you don't have to be asked to do that. Find out where you fit and do it."