Parish brings Easter joy to shut-ins

By | March 31, 2010


St. Bernard Parish volunteer Virginia Sitter delivers a begonia flower to parishioner Marie Whitehead in her home on March 26. (Kasi Koshollek | For The Compass)

“People always are happy to be remembered,” she said.

At Christmas it’s poinsettias, but at Easter it’s not lilies.

“Lilies are too pungent for sick people,” Sitter explained, adding that lilies don’t last very long either.

“We give a certain type of begonia and it comes in all colors and has no scent,” she said. “It also blooms for quite a while.”

Sitter and two or three other volunteers hand-wrap the plants, address them and arrange the deliveries. Then, over Palm Sunday weekend, families and individuals take the flowers to homes. It only takes a few hours and Sitter said the delivery people enjoy it as much as the recipients. Some even make it a family event.

“Sometimes the volunteers will come back and say, ‘This lady played music for us and the kids just had such a good time,'” Sitter said.

Every season, she gets 15-20 thank you cards back. Many recipients are too sick to respond, but even those with dementia get flowers.

“Even if a person has Alzheimer’s,” Sitter said, “it’s important that a plant be there, so the relatives see that their church is still caring for and about them.”

The flowers and cards that are sent to those who have moved out of the area or are in nursing homes in Milwaukee are funded by the Ladies of St. Bernard. They raise money through their Treasures and Gems sale, this year held on April 21-22, and a fall craft sale. They also use the funds to stock the parish kitchen and provide for some of the Bible school needs. The rest goes to community resources such as LEAVEN and shelters like COTS and the Fox Valley Warming Shelter.

The group also sends flowers at Christmas to the families who have lost a loved one in the past year.

Does a flower make a real difference? Sitter said one poinsettia did last December. She had arranged for a poinsettia to be sent to a man whose wife recently died.

“He wrote a letter and said that the one thing his wife always did, every year, was send him to get a poinsettia plant,” Sitter said. “That was their first preparation for Christmas. He said he wasn’t going to do it this year, so when our plant came, it was like a gift from his wife.”

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