Wauwatosa's Luther Manor residents share smiles through flower delivery

Ninety-four-years-young Rose Marie Letizia is presented with a flower by Melissa Maas at the Luther Manor nursing home Thursday, July 21. Every resident was given flowers.

Ninety-four-years-young Rose Marie Letizia is presented with a flower by Melissa Maas at the Luther Manor nursing home Thursday, July 21. Every resident was given flowers. Photo By Peter Zuzga

July 26, 2016

What do you get when you cross a sheep with a tulip? A colli-flower.

That joke was told by a Luther Manor resident in Wauwatosa during a particularly sunny afternoon July 21. The room erupted into laughter as the other residents — each wearing brightly-colored clown costumes and adorned with heart-shaped face paintings — each took their turn telling a joke with a plant in their hands.

The laughter was part of a nationwide, "Make Someone Smile Week" by floral wire service company Teleflora. The event aimed to put a smile on the faces of those who may need it the most through the delivery of flowers and plants, said Melissa Maas, owner of Menomonee Falls-based floral shop Bank of Memories and Flowers.

"It's amazing how florists come together to donate time and talent to help others," she said. Maas is also the president of Teleflora's local movement to spread smiles.

Nationally, Teleflora was expected to deliver more than 25,000 of it's "Be Happy Bouquets" to hospital patients, children in foster care, nursing home residents, Meals on Wheels recipients and others through its 40 units across the country. The bouquets were various house plants and flowers set inside a yellow mug with a smiley face painted on its side.

Maas made three delivery stops that day, dropping off bouquets to retirement community residents and hospital patients throughout the area.

About 156 plants were delivered to Luther Manor residents that day. Maas rolled in large carts of the bright yellow mugs filled with house plants and placed gave one to each resident. The flowers were donated by various local wholesale florists, she said.

The extra effort to spread smiles — including the jokes, which were passed out on slips of paper; the handmade clown costumes; and the face paintings — were all done by the staff at Luther Manor, 4545 N. 92nd St.

And that additional touch was especially touching for Maas.

"I got teary-eyed when I walked into the room," said Maas, who has participated in the annual program for the past 12 years. The florist said in past years, she simply dropped off the bouquets. But this time, seeing the smiles linger for a bit longer as residents giggled at each other's jokes, was extra special.

June Petersen, a 12-year resident of Luther Manor, echoed that sentiment.

"It's been grand," she said, wearing a bright yellow clown costume anda large, red hat tied under the chin. Volunteers helped make the costumes, she said.

"It's wonderful, the events the (staff) dream up for us," she said.

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