Posted by Michelle Myers Nelson

By: Michelle Nelson Myers - Los Gatos Rotarian
Drive by Michelle's house anytime and take a bunch or two to cheer you up.  She picks up new flowers every Monday and Wednesday.
Michelle lives at 1138 Valley Quail Circle, San Jose CA 95120

Being a Rotarian becomes a way of life for many members. However it does beg the chicken and the egg question. Does Rotary inspire one to do good deeds or does Rotary attract those who are predisposed to such behavior? It matters not, as either has the same bottom line.

The Los Gatos Rotary Club is no exception. Many of its members are involved with philanthropic activities outside the club. One such member, Michelle Myers Nelson has a rich history of giving back to the community. 

Soon after retiring as a Chef Instructor, Michelle sot after a way to contribute her culinary skills and help those less fortunate. She found the perfect match when she started cooking dinners for the homeless at First Christian Church in downtown San Jose. Wanting to give the attendees dignity  and pleasure of a first class meal, she began resourcing fresh produce donations from local merchants, including Whole Foods. That continues until the program morphed into the Recovery Café, two years later, which is now run by its participants.

Michelle knew that other stores made daily donations of cycled out inventory to charities and realized that no one at her local Trader Joe’s was picking up the fresh flowers on certain days. Seeing an opportunity, she filled in the gap and began collecting them 2 days each week. She then delivers them to the seniors at the Willow Glen Community Center. “Flowers lift the spirit” she says, “and the seniors are over joyed for the opportunity to receive the flowers that they otherwise may not afford themselves. Once a month these flowers are put in an arrangement and delivered to hospice centers by kind hearted women who put them in coffee mugs. 

Because we all are now required to “Shelter in Place”, the senior centers are temporarily closed. This presented a challenge of what to do with all the flowers she collected. The solution became apparent when she began sharing the bounty with her neighbors. People out walking the neighborhood created an opportunity to help lift the spirits of many needing respite from being cooped at home. She put up a sign that said to help themselves to the flowers to brighten up their, or someone else’s day during this difficult time.” The response has been amazing. One woman told her that a gentleman said he needed the flowers because “it was so very sad at his house right now”.  A Kaiser nurse left a thank you note and others constructed a “thank you” on the brick from the bark in the yard. It only shows that small acts of kindness can be what gets us all through these difficult times. For Michelle, she feels she this gesture of “service before self” is as important to her as it is to the community. It’s time for us all to stop and smell the flowers. It does a soul good.