During her years as a medical student, Eleanor Love would go to strangers weddings in Richmond, Virginia, with permission, and gather flowers for medical patients. Now, as a Virginia-based doctor, Love is still continuing her goal to brighten her patients lives with flowers.
Love is currently doing a general residency at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News. Her idea to bring patients flowers from weddings started as a medical student when she was interacting with patients who were severely ill. She wanted to help alleviate their suffering aside from assisting them medically.
That's when Love started The Simple Sunflower in 2019. With the project, she called businesses such as wedding venues and florists and asked them what events were scheduled. She'd then reach out to brides and grooms through event coordinators and ask them if they had any plans for their flowers after the big day. Most often, they wouldn't. For each wedding, she assembles a team of eight volunteers who pick up the flowers and then spend time repurposing them into vases for individual patients.
So far The Simple Sunflower has delivered more than 760 bouquets to patients at VCU Medical Center. And the program now has more than 200 volunteers on the email list. While other cities across the country have similar programs, the project was a perfect fit for Love as she has a lifelong appreciation of flowers because of her mom. And with her appreciation came the perfect way to help brighten patients lives.