When Shirley Lyons, AAF, PFCI, started fundraising for the Oregon Cancer Foundation about six years ago, her goal was modest: Raise awareness and funds for a deserving nonprofit that helps community members affected by cancer.
Inspired by a story she read in Floral Management, Lyons and her team at Dandelions Flowers & Gifts in Eugene, Oregon, began hosting an annual “Bras for Cause” fundraiser — an event that invited people to decorate bras in creative, funny and beautiful ways in a big-hearted competition that also generated great PR and goodwill for Dandelions.
The long-running effort also led this month to a new accolade for Lyons, a former chairman and president of the Society of American Florists, when the Foundation presented her with its inaugural Sparrow of Hope Award.
The award recognized Lyons’ overall contributions, including last year’s fundraiser, which raised $83,000. Over the past six years, Lyons estimates her shop has raised somewhere around $130,000 for the cause. During that time, Lyons has worked in real partnership with the Oregon Cancer Foundation, elevating its profile and ensuring its goals align with the shop’s efforts to engage meaningfully with the community.
“Our initial and continued goal has been to make certain that money we raised would actually be used for tangible benefits for patients,” Lyons said. “As the foundation was so small when we began, we asked a lot of questions and continue to do so, to help them both be accountable with budget transparency as well as to develop clear guidelines for how patients could become aware of the foundation, apply for funds and making it more ‘visible’ in the community.”
During the awards luncheon, organizers played pre-recorded videos of award nominees for a gathered crowd of several hundred. The event also featured a video highlighting patients and physicians association with the Foundation.
Read more about florists’ efforts to give back to their community.