02/15/10 — Mission: Saving marriages

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Mission: Saving marriages

By Laura Collins
Published in News on February 15, 2010 1:46 PM

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Reporter Laura Collins, left, and Don's Florist volunteer Jack Strickland, middle, deliver a dozen roses Friday to Marty Chandler at Johnston Ambulance Service.

The Job: Florist

The Company: Don's Florist

The Location: Goldsboro

"Are these flowers from my husband or my boyfriend?"

Clearly, love was in the air Friday while I was delivering Valentine's Day flowers for Don's Florist. I'm pretty sure the question was a joke. At least I hope so.

I arrived at Don's Florist Friday morning and walking into the shop was like walking into a family reunion. A month ago, owner Don Worley was diagnosed with leukemia. This was the first Valentine's Day in 30 years he wasn't going to be working.

Friends and family have come out of the woodwork to support Don and his wife, Patti Worley, on the shop's busiest week of the year. There seemed to be more volunteers there than actual staff members including relatives, former employees and family members of former employees.

One former employee, who quit because she had a baby, was back in the shop, doing flower arrangements with her baby in a front pack carrier. The shop sold more than 2,000 roses for Valentine's Day.

I was tasked with delivering flowers with Jack Strickland, a friend of Don and Patti, who was volunteering for the weekend. We loaded his van and got ready to leave, but not without a few last words from Patti Worley.

"No speeding, no wrecks and drive safely," she said.

"Aww, that's sweet," I remarked at her motherly concern.

"Well, we need him back to work tomorrow," she said jokingly, although I'm pretty sure she was serious.

Strickland and I soon realized how much of a scavenger hunt delivering the flowers was going to be.

"The fun part about delivering is they put just enough on the ticket to get you started," he said.

It was interesting to me that people who shelled out money for flowers didn't seem to have a vested interest in making sure they actually arrived at the intended location.

The first place we stopped to deliver wasn't open yet. The second place we stopped was closed on Fridays. The next delivery, the person only listed the intersection where the business was located. Of course, it was not actually located there, so we drove around until we found it.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle came when we went to deliver flowers at Cherry Hospital.

"That's weird, I could have sworn building U2 was that way," Strickland said, looking at a sign with an arrow pointing in the direction of building U2. He decided to stop and ask someone.

"Isn't building U2 that way?" he said to a woman who was walking on the sidewalk.


"But why is the sign pointing in the opposite direction?"

"They took the sign down a couple days ago when it was really windy. It looks like they just put it back up backwards."

Mystery solved.

In the end, we managed to successfully deliver all of our arrangements. It was amazing to see how the simple gesture of sending flowers had the capability of lighting up someone's day.

"I enjoy deliveries. You really get to see the surprise on people's faces, especially the elderly," Strickland said.

Back at the shop I ended my day making an arrangement of a dozen roses under the instruction of store manager Sally Fuller. When I was finished, Patti Worley said I could take the bouquet with me. I'd like to think it was because it turned out so well she knew I would be crushed to part with it. Although, it's also completely possible my work was subpar and Mrs. Worley knew she wouldn't be able to sell it. If that was the case, she never let on, and made me feel as though I was not only part of the team that day, but also part of the extended family that has come together to support her and Don. After working as her employee for a day, she had only one request.

"Please ask people to keep Don in their prayers."