Columbus, OH

Local organization Petals that Inspire partners with Star House, blossoms with opportunity

The Lantern
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Petals that Inspire collaborates directly with Star Works, Star House’s workforce development program, to give individuals from ages 14 to 24 a chance to partake in floral design workshops and thrive in a professional setting. Credit: Courtesy of Laney Sword

As plummeting temperatures start to diminish nature’s colors, Petals that Inspire is maintaining and sharing floral beauty year-round via a partnership with Star House Columbus.

Petals that Inspire is a flower shop and social enterprise launched in March 2020, Amanda Greenwood, founder of the organization, said. Whenever flowers are purchased, part of the profit goes toward supporting the local community, according to the organization’s website .

Greenwood said Petals that Inspire was made possible by a 2019 GiveBackHack event where she pitched her idea to sponsors and other business professionals, drawing from her experience in the wedding- and event-planning industries.

Following the event, Star House , a 24/7 resource center for youth experiencing homelessness in the Columbus community, made contact in hopes of establishing a working relationship, Greenwood said.

“As soon as I met with a couple of members from their team and actually engaged with the youth, I knew that I wanted to combine their passion and purpose with what they’re doing in the community with flowers,” she said.

Brittany Stricklen-Hillyard, a development director for Star House, said Petals that Inspire collaborates directly with Star House’s workforce development program, Star Works. Individuals from ages 14 to 24 are given the chance to partake in floral design workshops and thrive in a professional setting, she said.

“Every week, usually for about a few hours, the youth can participate in floral design classes, make floral arrangements or prepare flowers,” Stricklen-Hillyard said. “It’s great to see our youth learn basic employment skills, such as being on time or learning how to speak up on what they need from their work environment.”

These workshops also provide a sense of hope to participants, allowing them to form authentic bonds with their peers while building visions for their futures in Columbus and beyond, Greenwood said.

“Every time I bring these kids together, the conversations that naturally develop are not about what they’re going to have for dinner that night, but more about dreams and the big picture,” Greenwood said. “For people who have to focus so much on the necessities of life, to give them the opportunity to be creative is truly a gift.”

Greenwood said Petals that Inspire recently hosted an additional service event where volunteers tied blankets and assembled “bundle-up” kits that were donated to Star House. She said over 100 “bundle-up” kits were sponsored by people in and outside of the Columbus area, ensuring that Star House had a larger amount of blankets to distribute to those in need for the winter season.

“I’ve been trying to figure out ways to get the community more involved in my programming and my mission,” Greenwood said. “I brought together members of the community to hand-tie these blankets, which just adds another personal touch to this bringing of the community together and highlights the compassion the community wants to share.”

Star House is dependent on the Columbus community’s goodwill and interest, Stricklen-Hillyard said. In addition to standard monetary donations, the resource center will start looking to collect clothing items — such as sweatpants, hoodies, jackets, hats and gloves — that are in high demand as December begins, she said.

“Volunteering your time or donating your treasure is always appreciated,” Stricklen-Hillyard said. “We would love to take those items, and people can learn how to donate them by visiting our website.”

Outside of its work with Star House, Greenwood said Petals that Inspire functions as its own diversified brand and offers services such as specialized flower orders, flower arranging classes and pop-up bouquet shops. Private events can also be arranged.

Greenwood said Petals that Inspire aspires to bring joy and relief to the city of Columbus, with room to expand in the future.

“I think flowers have the ability to bring joy whether you’re handling them or receiving them,” she said. “They are always greeted with a smile, so the more I can give that to our community, the more I will do.”

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