The Friends In Action Clubhouse has long been known for its annual art show held in downtown Farmington, but now the members hope word will begin to spread about the clubhouse’s onsite floral shop that sells fresh flower arrangements to the public.
On Dec. 17, it held an open house to help the community get acquainted with what it has to offer.
While the FIAC Art Show is an annual event, the floral shop is an ongoing fundraiser for the non-profit organization operated in Farmington by BJC Behavioral Health. The clubhouse serves as a psychosocial rehabilitation center that provides a place for those with severe mental illness to socialize, participate in activities, build life skills and gain independence.
“We’ve been selling the permanent botanical arrangements for quite some time now, and acquired a floral cooler last summer, so we’re able to have fresh arrangements, as well,” said Clubhouse Unit Staff Member Michael Hunt. “We’re hoping to build up our customer base so we can have more fresh floral arrangements on hand, but can’t because of their limited shelf life. In addition to fresh cut flowers, we also have live plants and silk arrangements.
Hunt explained there are several things the clubhouse is trying to accomplish with the floral shop.
“What we’re really hoping to accomplish is to build relationships with local businesses and community residents to increase awareness about our program and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness in general. That’s the purpose of having our shop open to the public.
“Internally, we really work to help our members learn how to build relationships that are vital if you want to succeed out there in the world and accomplish the things you want to accomplish — whether that be get a job, move to independent living, go back to school.
“Whatever it is, you have to build relationships and work side by side with people and interact with folks in the community. This section of our program helps to accomplish those.”
According to Hunt, many of the arrangements are made by the club members themselves.
“We have some very talented members here,” he said. “We have one gentleman specifically who is awesome. He did the majority of the ones that we’ve already sold. We have workshops as regularly as possible. Karen Miller, who is our associate director of our outpatient clinic, is very good at these things. She comes over and gives lessons and we make up a lot of arrangements in those workshops to stock our shop with. We all kind of take part in it.”
Hunt has been assisted in the floral shop by Amber O’Neil, BJC support specialist, who has been working at the clubhouse for a little more than a year, but will soon be leaving.
When asked whether she had any background in flower arranging when she began her job at the clubhouse, O’Neil said, “Not necessarily about flower arranging, no. I was more into landscaping.”
Still, she believes that training clubhouse members in the art of flower arrangement has been a good thing.
“I think they’re definitely getting a lot out of it and it gives them confidence when they can come in here and create something that sells in the community, O’Neil said. “They feel like, ‘Look, I’ve found a new skill that I didn’t know, but now I do!’” According to Hunt, when the public chooses to purchase flower arrangements or plants from the FIAC, they’re not only helping to support a good cause, but they are also likely to get a good deal on their purchase.
“From what I understand, prices here are considerably less than they would be at a commercial floral shop,” he said. You know, we need to make a couple of dollars to keep ourselves afloat and be self-sufficient, but we’re not really in it to make a profit.”
Hunt said, “What we really strive to have is a day full of meaningful work that everybody can participate in. We also have a garden back behind the Friendship House Apartments that we share with them. We have some raised beds that we’re growing quite a few vegetables in. We grow them out there and then the kitchen team cooks them up for us.”
FIA Clubhouse is located at 657 Walton Drive in Farmington, next door to the El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant.