Volunteer Nancy Knollenberg joined the RAF Chicago team in 2016 after hearing a presentation at her garden club meeting. To her, the simple mission for bringing joy and smiles to people experiencing health struggles just made sense, and she couldn’t wait to get involved.

And, RAF’s mission holds a personal connection for her.  When I was very young my Mother was gravely ill. To this day, I reflect on how our kind and generous friends, family, and community took care of my Father and my three sisters during that difficult period of our lives. Those acts of kindness made a big impact on a very young girl, and I promised myself I would always be kind to others.

While Random Acts of Flowers focuses mainly on delivering finished arrangements to people in healthcare facilities, Nancy loves how RAF recycles flowers and vases to reach out to different groups of people, like supporting and encouraging young adults with special needs (see “The Value of Delivering Hope” in our Spring 2018 Newsletter), planting projects with seniors, and teaching and talking about empathy with flowers to 3rd graders.”

In fact, that last outreach gave Nancy one of her favorite volunteering memories! “I was helping third graders in North Chicago make two arrangements – one to give to someone special and the other to send to a children’s hospital. An adorable young boy DID NOT want to make an arrangement. My ‘Mom skills’ kicked in, but there was not a trick in my book to get him involved. He would play with the flowers, but that was it. However, when it came time to take pictures he was very willing to have his picture taken with a lovely bouquet made by one of his classmates. He had the brightest smile on his face! Success! Just in a different way.”

Nancy works full-time at the company she co-owns with her husband, as well as being an avid gardener and garden club member. She’s also a member of a local woman’s club, and spends a lot of time fundraising to support local students with educational scholarships. But, despite her busy schedule, she comes back to volunteer at RAF again and again because of the staff and her fellow volunteers. “Everyone at RAF Chicago is totally committed to the mission and a wonderful benefit is you also make many new and wonderful friends.”

And, Nancy would love for more people to experience what she has as a volunteer. “I encourage anyone reading this to become involved either with your time, talent, or financial support. You will be paid back many times over!”