Heidi Berkman: She’s Bringing Joy to Hospice Patients

March 27 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Smiles in Bloom

When a married couple, one a psychology researcher, the other a genetics researcher, conducted several double-blind studies about flowers, the results were astounding. Participants were presented with one of three gifts—a decorative candle, a fruit basket or a bouquet of flowers—with emotions-lab researchers scrutinizing each recipient’s facial expressions upon receiving the gift. Every single person responded to the gift of flowers with what’s known as a Duchenne smile. That’s psychologist language for a true smile that involves the whole face, a grin with the mouth, eyes and cheeks. So, what’s the moral of this story? Instead of simply stopping to smell the roses, give a blossoming gift that’s sure to lead to a loved one’s true smile.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 58.7 Percent

Flowers are often gifted during some of the most significant incidents of life. When dealing with illness or loss, these glimmers of sunshine do plenty of good. One common flower-delivery destination is hospice, alternative end-of-life-care facilities that focus on providing patients with comfort, care and respect when they need it most. And according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, women make up the majority of hospice patients, at 58.7 percent.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Heidi Berkman, Founder and President of The Bloom Project

Those who work in the hospice field are compassionate givers who labor tirelessly and believe in honoring their patients’ wishes and putting a strong emphasis on quality of life. If you think about what you would want were you in that position, chances are you wouldn’t turn down a lovely surprise bouquet. Heidi Berkman understands the power of flowers, particularly for hospice patients, and created an incredible nonprofit called The Bloom Project that’s focused on the selfless values of beauty, giving and joy.

In the past decade, The Bloom Project has brightened hospice and palliative-care facilities in Central and Northwest Oregon with nearly 200,000 spectacular floral arrangements, illuminating any number of lives and bringing countless smiles to patients’ faces.

Heidi’s bighearted, volunteer-run nonprofit began with a simple epiphany. She had spent more than two decades working in the event-planning industry when, one day, she discovered just how many flowers end up discarded following events. That waste could be used for good, she thought. So, she turned that experience into a one-of-a-kind giving organization.

Since The Bloom Project’s humble beginnings in Heidi’s garage in November 2007, she has grown the charity significantly, and now accepts donated flowers from wholesale floral suppliers, growers, grocery stores and floral designers, with volunteers creating fresh arrangements to be delivered weekly to hospices throughout Oregon.

The power of The Bloom Project’s mission can’t be underscored enough, with one hospice nurse manager explaining that many patients face somber circumstances without family, without support, and that such a simple gesture fills them with joy and reminds them that someone does care.

Though Heidi’s organization has had an impact in Oregon, she’s hardly resting on her laurels. During a recent Detroit Flower Week event, she expressed hope that The Bloom Project would grow to other markets, including Detroit, and led a pop-up workshop for participants to arrange flowers that were later donated to Hospice of Michigan.

It’s no surprise that in 2015, Heidi received the esteemed Edward E. Rosenbaum Hospice Life Award, founded by a physician who faced cancer and saw a need for more empathy in medical care. While Heidi was proud to receive the award, she knows there’s plenty more work to be done to ensure a little positive flower power can be sprinkled into the lives of hospice patients.

Thank you, Heidi, for bringing some joy to those who need it most. We think you’re the cream of the crop!


This quote by Hans Christian Andersen says it all:

“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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