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Small Pleasures Makes a Big Difference in Napa


On a sunny Tuesday morning a Napa backyard studio was filled with vibrant art, with a long table of colorful flowers punctuating the middle of the room. Around the table hands moved quickly, creating baskets and mugs filled with bouquets to be delivered to local seniors that same morning. Happy chatter filled the room as the women worked.

Small Pleasures began in 2000, created by a local mother and daughter team. Francoise Bowlby was enchanted with the idea and joined them on their venture. After the mother and daughter relocated, Bowlby kept the group going, and they have been delivering smiles weekly ever since.

Twice a week, Small Pleasures picks up the flowers that would otherwise be tossed out to make room for fresh flowers from local stores. In Napa, both Lucky Supermarket and Trader Joe’s Grocery Story donate all of their excess flowers to the group. On Tuesday mornings, the group meets in Francoise’s studio from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to create cheery bouquets with the donated goods. When the last flower has been placed, the deliveries begin, going out to senior care facilities, hospice, and the senior center. Last year, at Christmas, Small Pleasures delivered 250 coffee mugs filled with floral bouquets to the Veterans Home in Yountville.

Carol Kirk enjoys the deliveries. “I love seeing the smiles on the faces when we deliver the flowers. They look forward to it. Sometimes they are even standing outside waiting for us. They know when we’re coming,” she said smiling.

The women who participate in Small Pleasures were all quick to agree that it warms their hearts, and they drive home from deliveries feeling “warm and fuzzy.” Lydia Sirotka finds the entire process to be rewarding, likening it to her own personal form of therapy.

“Being in touch with the flowers feeds my soul. If you’re going through difficult times it helps to have this outlet to forget about your problems,” she said.

The group’s main purpose is to give back to the community, but it has social aspects as well. In 2004, for example, Carol was new to Napa and did not know many people. She noticed that every time she went to get her blood pressure checked, the facility she went to had new flowers. One day she commented on the bouquet and the attendant pointed out the attached info. She read about Small Pleasures and called the number on the tag to volunteer her help. She enjoys the flowers, but she enjoys the people, too, and has developed friendships having met many new people through Small Pleasures.

The all-volunteer group runs as a non-profit, and makes efforts to keep expenses to a minimum. The flowers are all donated, and baskets and mugs are picked up when new deliveries are made and then recycled and reused. The only real expenses the group has are buying Oasis floral foam and plastic liners for the baskets, relying on donations to make these purchases.

“Anyone can donate time or money,” said Brenda Irwin. The group always accepts donations and is currently working on expanding the group. At one point there were fifteen people, today there are six regular active members. Member Vivian MacFarland’s husband Tom also helps out, by picking up the flowers from the grocery stores.

Small Pleasures is grateful for community support. In addition to the flowers donated from Lucky and Trader Joe’s, the non-profit’s bank account was donated by Bank of Napa, who waives their monthly fee and also donated money to the organization. Community Projects has also supported the group financially, and many sites where floral arrangements are delivered often give an annual donation. All of the donated funds are used to purchase needed items to make the bouquets a reality. The Elks Lodge donated space for the Small Pleasures holiday luncheon.

Without the financial, and in-kind, assistance, Small Pleasures would no longer exist. Some smaller expenses are covered by the generous members, as for them it is a labor of love. To show their appreciation for the donation of the flowers, Small Pleasures brings the stores batches of homemade cookies for the employees every year to express their gratitude for helping to keep their group going strong.

Irwin added, “I love flowers and I love to serve people. If you bring someone flowers, it brightens their day.”

The members of Small Pleasures are delighted to keep brightening days for seniors across the Napa Valley. To volunteer, donate, or for more information, please call (707) 254-7629.

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