Remi, Margie and Catherine create bouquets from flowers thought by some to be past their useful life. Founder and CEO Larsen Jay said Random Acts of Flowers “gives flowers a second life, a second bloom.”                                           RoundTable photo

Jan. 27 was a busy day for Random Acts of Flowers. Larsen Jay, founder and CEO, oversaw the opening of an Evanston location and supervised its 60,000th delivery of “recycled” flower arrangements. About 100 of those bouquets went to patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, he said.

The organization picks up flowers that are no longer considered fresh – from florists, grocery stores, weddings and elsewhere – and brings them to the shop, where volunteers create new arrangements from the usable blooms. Volunteers distribute these flowers to hospitals, long-term care facilities and the like. Recipients are chosen by the doctors and caregivers, who identify those who could use a spot of beauty in their lives – “that keeps it random for us,” Mr. Jay told the RoundTable.

A film and television producer by training, Mr. Jay suffered a near-fatal accident in 2007. While recuperating in the University of Tennessee Medical Center, he said, “I was overwhelmed with support,” much of it in the form of flowers. “That had a big impact on my emotional state, and, as I walked the halls, I saw that some rooms had no flowers. We went back to my room, took the tags off the bouquets, piled them onto the wheelchair and delivered them,” well, at random.

Just before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, held in late afternoon at 2000 Greenleaf St., volunteers were busy creating new bouquets from flowers recently donated and delivered. Margie Pabich said she had also helped deliver flowers at Northwestern Hospital. “It was so lovely. I went into rooms and said, ‘I’m bringing you something to make your room look pretty.’”

At the ceremony Evanston Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Elaine Kemna-Irish welcomed the organization to the Chamber and to the community. “We are so happy to have you,” she said.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Mr. Jay said, adding, “What an amazing community.”

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...