Pinky brightens days with flowers
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Saturday, 27 July 2013 07:13
PERRYSBURG — Elizabeth “Pinky” Edens brazenly walks into other people’s yards, cutting other people’s flowers and walking off with them.
|Elizabeth Edens, also known as Pinky, is seen with a bucket of freshly picked flowers July 24, 2013 at the 577 Foundation in Perrysburg, Ohio. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Private property is one thing, but she's even been seen doing the same thing at the 577 Foundation on East Front Street.
And nobody ever calls the police.
In fact, Edens typically leaves only smiles in her wake.
What's going on?
"She has a project to take fresh flowers to people whose lives have been brightened by them," explains Edens' sister, Rose Drain.
It's a long-standing private mission, and during the last decade or so Edens has brought lots of other people on board, both as floral recipients and donors.
"It started when I lived in Bowling Green. My mom, Mary Dapogny, always had a history of helping other people, so I grew up with that."
Edens' aunt Genevieve Walsh "got me started on doing service" when she asked Edens to drive her over to Bowling Green Manor every week. "She'd take her corgis, put them in a wheelchair and take them around from room to room" offering a little pet therapy to the residents. "She enjoyed it so much, and so did they, and so did the dogs."
Outside Edens' house was a huge bush with ball-shaped white flowers.
"It only bloomed a few weeks. It was so massive, there were hundreds and hundreds of buds on it. So rather than have them live and die in my side yard and hardly anybody see 'em" Edens and her children cut the blooms, putting them in water-filled cups and taking them down to the nursing home. There she followed her aunt's lead, wheeling them from room to room and passing out the flowers.
"I just carried on the family tradition."
Later, she started volunteering at the Good Samaritan Mission in downtown Toledo and realized "that was a perfect place to do the flowers."
Edens would visit the downtown farmers' market, buying large bunches of flowers for $5.
"They would fill the whole dining room" at the mission, where she gave the posies to those coming for meals. What touched Edens was "hearing their stories of what they did with the flowers. So many had 'a friend who was sick' or it was somebody's birthday."
Often, then, instead of hoarding the beautiful blooms the down-on-their-luck folks would pass them along to others they deemed in even greater need.
Finally, Edens moved to Perrysburg, where she resumed passing out flowers in the local nursing homes.
By now, she was getting creative about acquiring the blossoms.
"Whenever I saw an amazing amount of flowers in bloom - like lilacs - I would stop by their houses and ask if I could just cut some," reassuring the resident that she'd be careful to do the job "so you'd never be able to see the difference."
"In all the years I did that, there was only one place that said 'no.'"
Lilacs were especially popular. "People used to just go bonkers for those."
A Whitehouse flower farm started setting up at the Perrysburg's Downtown Farmers Market. Edens would stop by the booth at 7 p.m. when they were closing "and they've give me end-of-the-day flowers."
The 577 Foundation has also become a reliable source of flowers for Edens' ministry.
"I just love it over there. I was talking with the horticulturist, Vicky, one day and she said I could come and when she had an abundance of flowers she would tell me when I could go" harvest some.
"One year she even planted extra zinnias for me."
The two women are each doing the other a favor. "It's really good for flowers to be cut back; it's important for people to know about culling," Edens pointed out.
Edens became a Rotarian in Perrysburg and through them she volunteered to help cook and serve food for the Perrysburg Christians United "Feed Your Neighbor" food bank held at Zoar Lutheran. Meals are served to the needy monthly, and every Friday during the summer.
"That's got me on a new mini-mission" passing out flowers to those who come to eat. "The people love it."
She recalls in particular one 30-year-old woman who stood stock still and "just held those flowers like they were a gift of gold. She looked up at me and said 'No one's ever given me flowers in my life.'"
Edens is frequently aided by 10-year-old Victoria Wilson of Perrysburg, a member of her own church, Stonebridge, which meets at Graystone Hall. "She's sometimes an all-day helper."
Her latest free flower source is a farm in Michigan, and her latest flower recipients are the folks at the Perrysburg Senior Center.
"If I have Food Bank (flower) leftovers, sometimes I'll go there. I decorate the tables, and people take them home on Fridays."
She's universally welcomed.
"Everybody knows women love flowers. What really surprised me was how much men love flowers," she's discovered.
Edens invites others to join her in the "flower exchange" or to do something similar on their own.
"God gave this amazing beauty to all of us. They're meant to be a food to the spirit, a joy for the soul."