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October 24, 2020
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Kindness during COVID-19 by Kathy

  • Kathy Nordin, owner and operator of Fairway Flowers, happily shares one of the beautiful flower arrangements she has become known for since Shelter In Place (SIP) started in March of this year. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
October 16, 2020

When does an act of kindness lead to bigger and better things? Kathy Nordin, a forty-year resident of Rohnert Park, experienced it firsthand. When the health orders were put in place last March, she, like others, was unable to work. Working in a Novato dental office, she found herself out of work temporarily because of COVID. She turned to her passion for gardening to occupy time while sheltered at home. But the story doesn’t end there. This is that story.

She grew up in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County and has lived in various sections of Rohnert Park during that time. Currently, she and her husband Greg of 40 years live in the F section. About four years ago, she started her garden. Subsequently, it has grown to encompass both her front and back yards and even along the fence between her home and the golf course. She’s an organic flower advocate and uses no synthetic chemicals or pesticides. She loves providing a habitat for the bees and butterflies among others to thrive. She even belongs to an environmental group in the United States called the “Slow Flower Movement.” The goal is to provide flowers from local sources instead of being shipped in from South America for sale in the big box stores. That way local small businesses are supported too.

So, during these stressful times, she decided to use her abilities and hobby to help brighten the days of her neighbors. She started creating arrangements of flowers from her garden, put them in vases and delivered them to about a dozen neighbors. She put notes with the flowers, letting them know if they needed help for shopping or just needed to talk, they could reach out to her. She then placed the flowers on their doorsteps, rang the bell and went home. According to her, the response “was amazing.” It was “overwhelming” to her. Like many of us, she didn’t even know many of those neighbors well. That was then, not now. She says, “Flowers transcend everything!” Her neighbors started calling her to thank her, but it was more than that. They held conversations with each other. Shared their stories. Spent time together to get to know each other and abate the isolation of being sheltered in place. 

So Nordin started expanding her acts of kindness. She walked further down her street delivering more flower bouquets. Folks started posting on social media pictures of the flowers they received. Others commented on the posts and she started finding out where they lived and made bouquets for them too. What started as a dozen, grew to a hundred. Now she’s delivered over 150 arrangements. Most are in Rohnert Park, but some were taken to Santa Rosa or sent and delivered as far away as San Francisco and Novato to co-workers and acquaintances of her spouse and herself in their workplaces.

She didn’t start out with a plan. Her project just took off. She didn’t charge anyone, and the cost of the vases came out of her pocket. However, neighbors and friends started offering their unused vases to her, to offset costs. In addition to her garden tending, she took online classes on organic gardening, flower arranging and related subjects while unable to work. Nearing retirement, when asked where she goes from here, she reported she started a home-based flower farm and floral design business called Fairway Flowers. She even obtained her business license. 

Although back to work 3-4 days a week, she’s still at her craft. She’s especially concerned and interested in finding seniors and others who are without support systems and might have their day brightened up by a delivery of flowers or a phone call. If you know of someone that might enjoy a delivery, you can reach out to her at fairwayflowers@outlook.com. If you have spare vases for donation, they can be delivered to her residence at 4590 Fairway Dr. in Rohnert Park. If you want to see examples of her work, you can check out her Facebook page at Kathy Baker Nordin or her Instagram account at #fairway.flowers.

Nordin said, “this whole experience has been really rewarding to me.” Setting an example in our community of how to give back to it was also important to her. As was providing organic homes for the butterflies and bees. Meeting new neighbors, having phone chats, or even sharing a cup of tea with someone has given her a new perspective on the kindness of people in our community.