Volunteer Spotlight

Barb Blanco

Coordinator of New Volunteers

“Oh, that’s perfect,” Barb Blanco exclaimed as she bee-lined through the piles of treasure and trash that are the hallmark of a juicy New England antique shop. “I’ve got to get that!”

“Ah-h-h, perfect for what?” her antiquing buddy asked dubiously, gazing nonplussed at the industrial-sized potato ricer Barb clutched as she made her way to the sales desk.

“For squishing foam,” Barb said. “This will cut our work time in half!”

Barb's big squisher

To her fellow volunteers with the Power of Flowers Project, it comes as no surprise that Barb is always thinking about ways to improve our ability to turn massive day-old floral arrangements into fresh individual bouquets for people in need of a smile.

One of the most tedious parts of our work is squeezing water out of the blocks of foam florists use to construct their large pieces—a necessity with each soggy block weighing approximately 4.3 pounds, and a typical donation containing up to 15 of them.

A real trash-hauler’s nightmare.

Now, thanks to Barb’s find, volunteers can reduce each block to a manageable 3 or 4 oz. patty with a couple of quick squeezes and get back to what we all love—arranging flowers.

Barb has been withthe Power of Flowers Project since we were a handful of volunteers turning out 40 or 50 arrangements per month. Now serving as Coordinator of New Volunteers, she reaches out to each potential volunteer with an info packet before their first session and walks them through their first visit to our workshop with her trademark patience and humor.

“She’s so calm and understanding,” said one recent recruit. “I was so nervous the first day because I’d never arranged flowers before and I was afraid I’d ruin something. But Barb stayed with me the whole time and showed me I really COULD do it!”

Can you say hypericum?

“I have always lived in New England, grew up in Billerica, and have been in Dunstable for over 30 years. When I retired after 40 years with Raytheon I was excited to be able to join the Power of Flowers Project. In the 3 years that I have been volunteering I have learned so much, met many wonderful new people, and have seen the joy of the recipients. Everyone working with the Project is so gracious in sharing their time and knowledge, patiently repeating the names of the beautiful blooms we work with.

“Some I finally remember (can you say hypericum?)”

Barb Delivers
“I have had many opportunities to deliver flowers and believe me it never gets old. The American Legion puts on a veteran’s dinner each month and they are always happy when we have flowers for them. The staff of New England Pediatric Care, who do such important work with medically fragile children, were so touched to be recognized and for the children to be remembered the first time we delivered there that several were brought to tears. Another time I delivered to an assisted living facility where a woman stopped me on my way out to tell me it was her birthday. She was unaware that I was involved but was so happy that she and other residents were getting “Nosegays” on HER birthday. She just couldn’t stop smiling.”