By Emily Neelon |

Standing out against the blank walls and solemn environment of the hospital room is a bouquet of brightly colored flowers. Vibrant and full of life, the gift of flowers brings a smile to the faces of the patient and their family in the end-of-care facility.

Hoping to make use of flowers that would otherwise be tossed out, Heidi Berkman founded The Bloom Project in a garage in Bend, Oregon in 2007 as a means of showing compassion for patients with fatal diseases.

The project became a non-profit organization in 2009  and serves six hospice and palliative care centers in Central Oregon. In 2013, The Bloom Project expanded to Portland, Oregon and the Sacramento/Placer region in Northern California. Over the past eight years, the organization has succeeded in delivering over 80,000 bouquets to patients and their families.

The Bloom Project receives flower donations from floral distributors, local businesses, community members and special events. A team of volunteers arrange and redistribute the flowers to palliative care centers with the hopes of brightening patient’s days.

The Bloom Project’s volunteer base has expanded since its humble beginnings with approximately 250 volunteers in Portland, Central Oregon, and the Sacramento/Placer regions.  In January 2015 alone, 1292 hours were donated with a total of 29,000 hours donated since the organization’s inception in 2009.

The Bloom Project volunteer Teresa Therriault and PRP Intern Emily Neelon live in the studio.

The Bloom Project Volunteer Teresa Therriault and PRP Intern Emily Neelon live in the studio.

The Bloom Project came into the studio throughout the week and spoke about their efforts to bring joy to those in end-of-life care facilities. Below we hear from the organization’s founder Heidi Berkman, volunteer Teresa Therriault, Legacy Hospice Director Gail Mueller and partner Larry Teufel.