Feature Friday: Frankie Flowers
It is Feature Friday and we are so excited to be featuring Frankie Flowers from the John Flowers Foundation! What started as a trip to visit his aunt at Boston Medical Center, has turned into a real gift for our city. 28 years ago Frankie, his siblings, and his cousins all took the trip up to the Boston Medical Center with his father, John, to visit his aunt. While there, being the outgoing person he is, Frankie wandered into the room next to his aunt’s and found a woman there who reminded him of his grandma. She was all alone, and had no family to visit with so Frankie stayed to talk with her and they immediately connected and started laughing and hugging and crying. When his father finally came and found him something sparked within John and he knew he needed to do something.
So the next day they came back to the hospital with teddy bears for everyone. And it wasn’t just the patients receiving these gifts, but the nurses and doctors too. And they have been continuing this tradition here at home in Poughkeepsie ever since. Visiting hospitals and nursing homes to bring gifts, sing songs, and visit with the patients. So for the next 20 years, John Flowers and his family continued helping those in need.
About 8 years ago, Frankie found his own spark when a mother of three walked into his store and could only afford to buy shoes for two of her children, telling Frankie she would have to come back another time to buy the third pair. So he gifted her the third pair of shoes, and asked her, “What do you do for Christmas presents?” To which she responded, “it’s either Christmas presents or the electric bill, I can’t afford both.” So he told her to come back and see him in December, and following in his father’s footsteps, he bought teddy bears and put out the word that they were looking to help families who couldn’t afford to give their kids gifts on Christmas. They even had Santa and his elves deliver the gifts to the kids! This year they are expecting to give gifts to around 2,000 children.
When asked what his favorite part of working with the foundation Frankie said, “It’s getting to see the people you help, start to help. To see that change from being in a position of needing help, to one where they can be the ones to give back and help others.”
While he loves doing all that he does for his community, Frankie’s hope for the city of Poughkeepsie is that the need will decline. His hope is they can continue to help people get set up in the programs they need, whether it be for education or assistance or something else, to better their situation.
But their heart and passion for helping others means this quickly grew past the holiday season. Frankie and all the volunteers at the John Flowers Foundation work hard year round to continue to make John Flower’s vision to help those in need and celebrate our community a reality. From their old fashioned Easter egg hunt to their Mother’s and Father’s Day parades, to their back to school community day picnic, and their Thanksgiving food drive, they are constantly working hard to fill the needs in our community. Last month, in the days leading up to Thanksgiving they delivered 1,200 baskets with everything a family could need to cook dinner, while on Thanksgiving day they delivered 1,100 cooked meals.
“I’m only who I am because of the people in my life. I can only do what the people around me enable me to do. But some people don’t have that support system, and that is where we step in and help.” -Frankie Flowers
The John Flowers Foundation is always looking for volunteers, especially this year with the extra precautions they have to take to keep everyone safe. If you are interested in volunteering contact Frankie, use the link in our bio for more information.
If you would like to donate, you can mail a check to Frank Flowers, PO Box 617, Pleasant Valley, NY 12564. Make the check out to Family Services with John Flowers Events in the memo.