Once again Michele Lariviere, owner of Otto Florist and Gifts located on Main Street in Ware set out in September to conduct the 13th annual Shirley Batsie Memorial Rose Sale. The Rose Sale continues to further the vision of the late Shirley Batsie; to provide a lifeline of comfort for patients and families while at the hospital for their cancer treatment.
Despite seemingly never ending obstacles, Lariviere was determined to continue to hold the annual fundraiser which to date has raised over $200,000 in support of Baystate Regional Cancer Program at Mary Lane Hospital. This year’s Rose Sale raised $7745.
“I don’t think anyone will forget this past winter,” said Lariviere. “The storms that hit New England dumped so much snow that many buildings suffered from the weight of the snow, including the business right next to my flower shop. A collapsed roof and condemned building created a barrier to foot traffic to my flower shop,” noted Lariviere. Add to that an already difficult economy, high fuel prices, and big box store competition, I wondered if I would be able to stay in business let alone sponsor a fund raiser.”
It didn’t end there, during the winter Lariviere got sick.
“It wasn’t until I faced my own health concerns, multiple doctor appointments and testing, that I realized what people go through when they face a health scare, and even worse a cancer diagnosis,” said Lariviere. You don’t think too much about your community hospital until you need it and then it becomes one of the most important things in your life,” noted Lariviere.
Committed to the annual fundraiser, Lariviere called on the many faithful community volunteers who have been by her side, ready to prepare the roses to be sold and brave the changing September weather selling roses during this unique community fundraiser.
“The Rose Sale Volunteers come back every year and put a friendly, committed face to this event that raises money to support keeping cancer care local. We have all been touched by cancer in some way and realize the importance that the Baystate Regional Cancer Program offers in Ware to our family members, friends and our community,” said Lariviere. “And everyone loves to get flowers! There is nothing like getting surprised with flowers,” noted Lariviere. Adding, “The best part of being a florist is how special your creations make people feel.”
During the 2011 Rose Sale over 36,000 roses brightened community house holds and comforted many touched by cancer.
Adding to the incredible meaningfulness of this years rose sale, Constanty Kosinski, Jr. CPA, and cousin of Lariviere passed away after a brief battle with cancer, shortly after the 2010 Rose Sale. “Conny loved to volunteer at the rose sale and also managed the rose sale finances,” said Lariviere.
This year rose sale activities hit close to home as Lariviere presented $650. in donations made in memory of Conny by those that loved him, to the Baystate Regional Cancer Program at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital.
I want to be sure that the local communities know how much I appreciate their support not only during the rose sale but all year long. It is an honor to be a part of so many personal events; whether it is an arraignment for a wedding, a memorial, just to say I love you, or a fundraiser to support our local hospital, I take great pride in being your local florist.
“Michelle Lariviere is a community hero and we salute her strength and unwavering support,” said Carol Baribeau, Director of Annual Funds and Events at Baystate Health Foundation. “The Baystate Regional Cancer Program at Mary Lane Hospital continues to offer a patient-centered environment with experts from the Baystate Regional Cancer Program, family support, counseling, educational materials, pastoral care, and state-of-the art equipment – plus so much more, thanks to the Michelle and the many community volunteers.”
For more information about Baystate Mary Lane Hospital visit Baystatehealth.org/bmlh.