Inside the main atrium at Genesys, window displays filled with twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments invite visitors into the Acorn Gift & Flower Shop, where a carefully curated selection of porcelain angels, smiling snowmen and fuzzy moose beg to be taken home for the holidays. “We choose the merchandise ourselves,” said Store Manager Karen Badgley. “It’s always a treat to shop for our holiday offerings, especially when our selections become popular and sell out!” Karen says she’s worked in retail for years, but she’s never worked anywhere like this. “Our store is staffed by volunteers, and it is such a great place to work. The volunteers are just fabulous,” she said.
Outside the shop, the EverGreen Cart is transitioning from fall flowers to holiday foliage, with a display of fresh Christmas wreaths and swags. Christine Yancho, Director of the EverGreen Cart, says that most people who buy their holiday greens from Genesys don’t know that they are assembled right across the street. Hidden behind trees are three greenhouses utilized by the EverGreen Cart for their operations. When MCM visited, the greenhouses were filled with the sharp, invigorating smell of pine sap. Volunteers assembled wreaths and swags of live greens, which were cut a week earlier and shipped from the Upper Peninsula. “I have over 30 volunteers who work in the greenhouses,” said Christine proudly. “This year, we ordered 1,500 pounds of greens, and I’m hoping it will be enough for the season! We usually sell about two to three dozen wreaths a week.” Bolts of ribbon and decorations, some brought in by the volunteers themselves, wait to be affixed to the greens and moved over to the hospital for display. Custom orders are welcome, and plain wreaths are also available for all the DIY-ers who want to decorate their own wreaths. “It’s so fun to work here,” Christine said happily.
The Acorn Gift & Flower Shop and the EverGreen Cart are about more than just holiday decorations. “A portion of the proceeds from all of our sales in the gift shop, at the EverGreen Cart, and from visiting vendors go toward initiatives within the hospital,” explained Karen Vancura, Director of Volunteers at Genesys. “Since 1997, we have contributed five million dollars to improving patient care at Genesys. The money we’ve raised has gone to programs, equipment and technology that benefit patients here, including robotic surgery technology, courtesy shuttle vans, anesthesia machines, new laboratory equipment and more.” In all, Genesys boasts over 550 volunteers, who contribute over 50,000 hours across 40 different areas in the hospital. “We actually have a wait-list for volunteering here, if you can believe that,” Karen said.
With a desire to give back and make a positive impact on patients at Genesys, the EverGreen Cart and the Acorn Gift & Flower Shop embrace the spirit of the season with generosity. ♦
Photography By Mike Naddeo