On the morning of May 20, a red car pulled up in front of Stephen Smith Towers, a senior community building in Philadelphia. A woman stepped out of the car and opened all the car doors, taking out tens of bouquets of fresh flowers while greeting passers-by and offered them the donated flowers. In a short time, all the flowers had been gifted away.
This lady is known as the “Happy Flower Lady.”
Philadelphia local Patricia Gallagher had just picked up these fresh flowers donated by a grocery store that had leftover bouquets from the previous day and rushed to deliver them. Gallagher told The Epoch Times, “It’s just something that gives me so much joy every day, to pick up these free flowers and be able to bloom smiles everywhere I go.”
Since May of 2013, the “Happy Flower Lady” has delivered more than 65,000 donated bouquets of fresh flowers to surprise people in need of a smile, including thousands of residents in senior living facilities for the last nine years, spreading the power of kindness and bringing joy and smiles to people.
Gallagher has delivered flowers to Stephen Smith Towers senior community four or five times in the past.
Sheioah Gordon, who lives in the community, was overjoyed after receiving the flowers: “I feel wonderful. I feel good. Give me my flowers while I’m living. I enjoy getting flowers. To me, it makes my day. I love flowers.” Gordon was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, went to hospice care, and has just been released as she is now in remission.
“Flowers brighten up everybody,” Felicia Wise, a social worker at the senior community, said. She was so excited to get a full cart of flowers to the senior community. “The residents need flowers to brighten up their day. And she’s such a good person, I love to see her come.”
“I think this is an amazing, amazing, amazing, good thing that she’s doing for the community,” Tanisha Dawson, co-owner of the Nurtured Nest homecare agency, said of Gallagher after receiving her flowers.
“I feel like this can make somebody’s day. If you’re down or if you are just waking up on the wrong side of the bed and you get these flowers, they can really turn your day to a good day. So I think this is great. And it makes me feel happy.”
Dawson continued, “I think that she should continue to keep doing it. I think that is definitely something that is helping the community with so many negative things going on. It’s a positive contribution. And I just commend her. Hopefully we can be a part of it.”
A Philadelphia resident Tia R. Myrick received the happy flowers too. “I love these flowers. They’re beautiful. They also make my home, my kitchen table look good. Put them in a vase. They’ll be beautiful for at least a week.
“I don’t know Patricia, but I appreciate her for giving the flowers to me anyway,” Myrick said gratefully. “The small act of kindness can bring happiness to people. You never know what just one ‘Hello’ may do or a bundle of flowers may do to brighten up someone’s day.”
Gallagher started her “Happy Flower Day” project about nine years ago.
When Gallagher moved in with her mother to help take care of her, they were trying to think of fun things to do besides going shopping or going to visit her friends.
Gallagher’s daughter came up with the idea to contact different stores and ask them what they do with their surplus or leftover flowers. And once she got that idea, Gallagher and her 88-year-old mother, and their 91-year-old friend Bob, would go around Philadelphia and pass out flowers every morning. This just made everyone happy. Since then, Gallagher has brought hundreds of beautiful donated bouquets to strangers in shelters, nursing homes, hospices, hospitals, and other places every week.
What’s amazing to Gallagher is that every time she wants to deliver flowers somewhere, she can always find the person in need.
“Just yesterday, I picked up 125 flowers. And I thought, ‘Where should I go?’ and I thought of a place, it was an hour away. And I thought, oh, with the cost of gas, should I really drive an hour?”
Eventually, Gallagher decided to go. She recalled, “When I got there, a new resident was being moved in and her daughter, who was probably my age, was feeling very sad about bringing your mother into the nursing home for the first time. So when I offered her flowers, she was just ecstatic.”
And all caregivers in the nursing home got flowers that day. They were having a birthday party for all the May birthdays, and everyone got flowers. A hospice nurse had 10 more hospice patients to visit, and all got flowers. Gallagher said happily, “So those 100 or so bunches of flowers just went.”
Gallagher echoed the Chinese proverb: “A little fragrance always clings to the hand that gives the roses.”
“I feel so happy. I come towards someone with flowers and I say: ‘I have some free flowers leftover from an event. Would you like a bouquet?’ And they asked ‘Are they free?’ And I say ‘Yes.’ I smile, they smile; I hug, they hug.” Gallagher said, “You can never have a bad day when you’re passing on flowers. Because as the Chinese say: You’re giving but the fragrance really comes back at you. I think, as the giver, I have as much joy as somebody that receives the flowers.”
Flowers During the Pandemic
Even during the pandemic, Gallagher didn’t stop her flower deliveries.
Before the pandemic, she had delivered flowers to the nursing homes every day for years. But when the pandemic came, they didn’t want to risk flowers that had been touched coming into their facilities.
Gallagher said: “I feel that so many people are downtrodden, sad, depressed, anxious about employment, about gas, and everything. And during the pandemic, I couldn’t go to the nursing homes.”
So instead, she decided to walk around the streets of North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, Center City, and Norristown.
“Whoever I saw at the bus stop, at the train station, walking with their little children, I gave the flowers out primarily on the streets. And that was just as exciting as giving them to the seniors in the nursing home. We all had masks, the receiver, and the giver. But we still communicated with our eyes and exchanged sort of like that. And it made all of us happy.”
She believes that during the pandemic, this meant a lot to people, and it was just a great spot for people to receive flowers on the street.
The “Happy Flower Lady” has a clear dream: that is to be a “representative and advocate for saving the flowers.”
Gallagher had planned her “Happy Flower Day Tour” in March 2020, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. She is hoping this fall to start her special tour.
“I want to travel to these cities: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Des Moines. I want to go to Nashville, Knoxville, I want to go up to the New England states,” Gallagher said. Once there, she wants to offer to do a free program for libraries, nonprofits, schools, nursing homes, and adult daycare centers, and these organizations would invite people from the community, the scouts, and the PTA to get involved.
Gallagher thinks the Happy Flower Day project can be done on every continent, wherever there are flower stores, there are wedding events, and there are places where you can pick up the flowers. Hundreds of people who have gotten in touch with her or have heard her speak say they’ve started a flower sharing project.
Gallagher has written 31 books, four of which are on helping people who may want to start a Happy Flower Day type of program. She suggests beginners start with the book “FAQs About Starting a Free Flower Sharing Project.”
Gallagher concludes: “If you don’t want to do flowers—actually, I’m allergic to flowers; every morning, I take medicine so that I don’t sneeze and cough but other people can do what I also do two days a week—I go to food pantries (to help with the hungry).”
Two of her other books are ideas for spreading random acts of kindness, one of which is “150 Ways to Sprinkle Kindness in Your Community.”
She welcomes everyone to visit her website at HappyFlowerDay.org.