Veterans at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home get a special treat each month as members of one local garden club arrive with flowers in tow.
As an ongoing garden therapy program, members of the Pine Needle Garden Club visit the nursing home monthly to assist patients in making flower arrangements. The activity has become a favorite for veterans at the home.
“Our garden therapy chairman in 2004 contacted the activities coordinator at the home and asked if we might be able to work with patients in helping them make these arrangements,” said club member Betty Davis. “It gives them a different way to use their hands and minds. The coordinator was delighted and said no other volunteers were doing anything like this.”
Three to five club members each month volunteer to assist with the service project. Greenery and flowers are gathered from members’ gardens or collected from local florists who graciously donate the items. Donated plastic jars and bottles are used for floral containers.
“Once a year, the club purchases a case of plastic vases to use,” said Davis, adding that all containers must be plastic for the safety of the veterans.
On the designated day, members arrive at the nursing home armed with supplies. Members are directed where to go and nurses begin filling containers with water.
“Some patients are already waiting at the tables and others arrive throughout our session,” said Davis. “In the beginning, we had only a few patients participate, but as many have witnessed the fun, the number has grown.”
Typically, 15 to 25 men and a handful of women participate.
“Sometimes wives come to assist their husbands and the nurses are always eager to help,” added Davis. “Each patient is given greenery and a variety of flowers in complimenting colors. We cut stems, but ask patients to place floral materials in their vases.”
While some patients require assistance, many do not and Davis said the end design is always a beautiful creation.
The arrangement is wrapped in tissue paper, secured with ribbon and carted off by its creator.
“Patients happily head off in several directions to carry their arrangements either to their room ... or give them to a wife or loved one when they visit,” said Davis. “Some present their arrangements to a nurse or place it at the nurse’s station on their floor.”
The club’s “Little Sprouts” Junior Garden Club also creates Christmas cards for the veterans, Davis said. It’s always a special time when the cards are distributed.
“They make these cards from recycled Christmas cards that Pine Needle members have donated and some of the messages the children write to the veterans truly touch the heart,” said Davis.
As the garden club members clean up, Davis said they are filled with a great sense of satisfaction.
“We feel we have been blessed by the fun and excitement we have witnessed as these soldiers of war have once again been able to take pride in an accomplishment,” Davis said.