Non-profit makes patients feel better with recycled flowers

A non-profit volunteer group is putting a new twist to random acts of kindness to help South Bay patients feel better thanks to a newly opened Silicon Valley branch.

The organization -- called Random Acts of Flowers -- gives unused or recycled flowers to patients and senior citizens who may need a little TLC. On Thursday, the nonprofit made their first-ever delivery in the Bay Area.

Maria Luisa admits life hasn't always been easy. At 82 years old, she lives at a senior living facility in Palo Alto and misses her family.

"I wish they were here," said Maria Luisa. "I have to be strong."

Across the hall, 91-year-old neighbor Anna has family who lives in Wales in Great Britain.

At times, the seniors feel a bit lonely and perhaps forgotten. But they didn't feel that way on Thursday.

Random Acts of Flowers founder Larsen Jay had an idea back in 2008 after a near-fatal accident landed him in the hospital.

"I got overwhelmed with support and that came in the way of flowers," said Jay. "I hadn't been given flowers. Most guys aren't sent flowers. It made a big impact in me on my recovery."

The Tennessee man realized not everyone has that support, so he started the non-profit.

The idea is collecting unused, recycled or donated flowers from grocery stores, flower shops and even events like funerals and weddings and giving them to hospital patients and seniors who need a boost.

"We are taking something that would otherwise be thrown away and thrown in the trash and doing something really wonderful with it," said Jay.

Eight years later, the group has delivered flowers in Tennessee, Tampa Bay and Chicago. Now there is a branch in the Bay Area, too.

Those who work at these facilities say the flowers help their clients in their recovery and improve their mental well-being.

"They feel like somebody else cares and they feel loved," said Ramiro Caceres of the Webster House Health Center.

So far, nonprofit has delivered 70,000 flowers and smiles. It's a simple moment of kindness that makes someone's day a little brighter.

"I feel on top of the world," said Luisa.

If you'd like information about volunteering or donating flowers to the organization, visit the official Silicon Valley Random Act of Flowers website.