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Published: Monday, 1/19/2009

Mom's project spreads blessings through blooms

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Michelle Nickles, left, co-owner of Glass City Flowers on Laskey Road, shows a bouquet design to Rose Dennis, who started Little Flower Carriers to provide flowers to terminally ill people. Michelle Nickles, left, co-owner of Glass City Flowers on Laskey Road, shows a bouquet design to Rose Dennis, who started Little Flower Carriers to provide flowers to terminally ill people.
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo

When postal carrier Harold Dennis made his rounds from the Wernert's Post Office station, he delivered more than mail.

With the letters, packages, and catalogues, he offered a friendly hello, a glad-to-see-you smile.

"He loved the people on his route. He was a hard-working mail carrier. He was a good man, and an excellent father," said his daughter, Rose Dennis, of Toledo, who is marking the 10th anniversary of his death by cultivating a new program called Little Flower Carriers.

The fledgling project sends bouquets of flowers to terminally ill patients at hospices in northwest Ohio. The flowers are tucked in large coffee mugs decorated with inspirational messages.

One night recently during prayer, Ms. Dennis was inspired to purchase flowers anonymously and deliver them to people who are dying, particularly those who might not have family members who visit regularly.

She sent notices to floral shops, asking if any would like to help, perhaps by providing discounts or special pricing on bouquets.

Glass City Flowers on West Laskey Road, a shop where blessings bloom on a regular basis, responded. Owners Bernadette Opsahl and Michelle Nickles talked it over with Ms. Dennis, and a standing order was placed for bouquets to be made for delivery monthly to hospices in northwest Ohio.

The way the flower shop conducts its business has been an inspiration, Ms. Dennis said, and it's the main reason she decided to work with Glass City Flowers on such an important mission as Little Flower Carriers.

The owners of the flower shop extend a helping hand whenever possible to customers. There are no price tags on the shop's merchandise. "We're a blue-collar shop. If someone comes in and says they can only afford $15, then we find something to work at that price," Mrs. Opsahl said.

Special touches also are a part of the flower shop's trademark business practice. When requested, it will deliver flowers and a hug to someone feeling sad, or deliver flowers at 10 p.m. to a woman working a late shift.

"We try to let people know: Don't be scared, talk to us, and we'll figure it out together. Whatever they have in mind, it's probably possible, anything is possible," Mrs. Opsahl said.

So far the flower shop has delivered a few Little Flower Carriers bouquets. "We just started in January," Mrs. Opsahl said. Anyone wishing to help the project should contact Glass City Flowers, she said.

Little cards accompany the bouquets.

"The cards say the flowers are a reminder that God loves you and I'm praying for you," Ms. Dennis said. They are signed "Little Flower Friend."

Late last week Ms. Dennis, 38, and her 5-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, delivered a bouquet of 13 white roses, baby's breath, and a purple sheer chiffon bow to a Toledo-area hospice. Printed on the mug was, "Pour your life into another and watch it grow." There also was a Bible verse and a little sign that read, "Scatter Seeds, Grow Dreams."

The connection of Glass City Flowers and Little Flower Carriers might seem an amazing coincidence, but those involved say it was meant to be.

Though the women didn't initially know each other, it turns out that Ms. Dennis and Mrs. Opsahl attend the same church, Our Lady of Lourdes on Hill Avenue.

Also, Mrs. Opsahl's daughter, Olivia, and Ms. Dennis' daughter both had the same kindergarten teacher.

Besides honoring her father, the name Little Flower Carriers honors St. Therese, who was said to have promised to send roses from Heaven to people on Earth, Ms. Dennis said. "St. Therese lived a beautiful, simple life. She has always been an inspiration," she said.

Prayer is an important part of the outreach effort, and people are encouraged to pray for recipients of the bouquets, which are delivered to hospices in care of "patients in need." Recipient names are kept private by the hospices, but Ms. Dennis has been told the bouquets have been well received.

So far, Ms. Dennis has been footing the $10 per bouquet bill. "I am a single mom on a budget, but with my spare money, I can do what I am doing."

She hopes others will get involved and make Little Flower Carriers a successful nonprofit organization.

With donations, more bouquets could be delivered, she said.

Contact Janet Romaker at:

jromaker@theblade.com or

419-724-6006.



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