LOGAN – When a child is born, there are flowers. When someone dies, there are more flowers. When someone gets married, there are flowers. When a husband needs forgiveness, there are more flowers. There is something about flowers that changes people. And that power of flowers is helping service missionaries and a local non-profit help others.
Deserae Turner, the Amalga girl who survived a gunshot wound to the head from school mates, is serving as a service missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Logan. She has been given three assignments.
The first is working with an organization called Brightening Blooms, a volunteer organization that takes discarded flowers, arranges them, places them in vases, then delivers them to different locations in Cache Valley.
The next assignment is to help refugees learn to read.
And the last is to serve in the Historic Logan Tabernacle during the Noon Concert Series on Wednesdays.
Before she was even called on a mission, the Turner family repurposed some of their horse pasture and turned it into a free u-pick flower garden. A late frost cost them some of their flowers, but they still find enough to donate to Brightening Blooms.
Turner also recently enrolled in the Master Gardner’s Class though Utah State University Extension with her mother April. They finished the instructional part of it and now are trying to finish off the required service hours.
“After the shooting incident, I came home to so many flowers and left them on that small hill in our yard,” Deserae said. “Since then, I’ve taken a real interest in flowers, and we started to grow flowers and we want to have a u-pick flower patch.”
When she received her mission call, her mission president’s wife went to work and found Brightening Blooms and assigned Sister Turner, three other sisters and four Elders to put in time at the 501-C non-profit. The organization started in 2019 and just got a foothold when the pandemic hit.
Megan Thueson, a co-founder of Brightening Blooms, said there is something about flowers that helps people. They call it flower power.
“I can’t explain why, but when you take someone flowers, it makes their day. It changes them,” she said. “When you walk into a room at an assisted living center with a bouquet of flowers, the people’s eyes change. It means everything to them. It fills them with hope, they know someone cares and they feel valued.”
Brightening Blooms uses flowers that florists discard because the stems aren’t strait, or the flowers aren’t perfect, and the volunteers put them in bouquets.
Most florists will not use flowers that the stems are not strait. They throw them out.
“We take the crooked stems and other flowers with imperfections and turn them into a beautiful bouquet,” she said. “There is still value and purpose in the flowers. That’s a good philosophy for life. Despite our imperfections each of us have, we may walk around a little crooked, out of balance or just not perfect but when we work together, we can achieve something perfect.”
There is power in the variety, that’s what makes everything pretty.
The other co-founder, Charie Shields of North Logan, was in a Master Gardner Class with Thueson. They became friends. Shields was already growing flowers and giving them to people in her neighborhood.
The two found one source for discarded flowers and came up with the idea of finding other sources, like left over wedding flowers or donated flowers from private gardens. Sister Turner has donated a fair number of flowers from her garden.
Thueson and Shields get people to arrange the flowers and donate vases then set out to cheer up people they have never met.
Shields said she likes giving the flowers because it cheers people up.
“Giving flowers makes people feel like someone cares, it cheers them up,” she said. “I used to pick flowers from my own garden and give them to individuals that had struggles.”
She saw the difference it made and wanted to touch more people.
“Brightening Blooms grew a lot bigger than I thought it would,” Shields said. “People are doing it in Davis County and Utah County and other places in the state.”
Utah State University Extension Agent Jaydee Gunnell said he was impressed with what the ladies are doing.
“In my 15 years with Utah State University running the Master Gardener program, the Brightening Blooms program is hands down the most impactful to the community that I have seen,” Gunnell said.
The charity organization is seeking people who want to collect flowers and bring them to the ladies, help arrange the flowers or deliver. They can contact brighteningblooms.org, call or text Megan at (435) 232-4189 or Charie at (541) 324-2586.
There is also a need for vases and cash donations.