Leona Davis first learned of Impact100 SJ by attending an information session hosted by Nancy Weber. While learning about the mission of Impact100, and seeing so many potential members attentively listening to the presentation, growing eager to join, Leona felt an immediate connection with the group and the amazing work being done to support the efforts of local Southern New Jersey non-profit organizations. She knew she wanted to join! What appealed to Leona the most? “I was so impressed with the simple but impactful approach to collective giving to local non-profits, and knew I wanted to become a part of this effort.”
Leona became a proud member of Impact100 SJ in 2019 and is now in her third year. Her joining Impact100 SJ happened to coincide with another decision Leona made that year – to formalize a non-profit business for which an idea “sprouted” in 2016 when her daughter, Christina got married. Planning Christina’s wedding caused Leona and her daughter to wonder what happens to the ‘still beautiful’ flowers at the end of the night. Realizing that wedding flowers usually get thrown away after the reception, Leona and her family decided to repurpose them into smaller bouquets and share them with residents at a local nursing home. “Seeing the residents’ reactions of joy, our hearts erupted with love and gratitude, and we knew that we could not stop with this wedding.”
The seed for Forget Me Knot Flowers was planted. Now, Leona, her husband Tom, and a host of volunteers work with couples, event planners, florists and grocers to share the love-filled power of recycled flowers to ensure those in nursing homes, care facilities and local hospitals are not forgotten. And the recipients of the repurposed bedside bouquets are not the only ones benefiting from these efforts. “Our volunteers become a family. To quote one of our many volunteers, ‘Thank you for taking me out of my life for a few hours.’”
Leona feels truly honored to be a part of Impact100 SJ, an organization of like-minded women who collectively are impacting the lives and successes of so many. She appreciates the “acts of kindness” that Impact100’s efforts represent, as well as getting to know and learn from so many intelligent, creative, talented and interesting women. “We are all inspiring others, sometimes in ways we do not even realize. I am so proud to be a member of IMPACT100 — it is a group that is “heart run” and a great inspiration to be a part of.”
How has Leona integrated her Forget Me Knot Flowers efforts and Impact100 involvement? Leona and Wendy Frantz, Impact100 SJ Events Committee Chair, had planned a floral repurposing event last year for Impact100 members. “We saw it as an opportunity for Impact100 women to get together in a relaxed atmosphere and create pretty masterpieces with flowers, then to share with those needing an emotional lift. But, then Covid got in the way… We WILL do this when the time is right!”
Speaking of COVID, Leona believes the shutdown has made being together with family and friends even sweeter than it was. “We cherish the time we’re able to spend together and have learned not to take for granted the precious time we have with one another.”
Leona has been teaching music to elementary school students in Washington Township for the past 25 years. “When students learn to express themselves through music, it breaks down barriers and builds self-confidence, and they stand a little taller because of it.” She and her husband Tom live in Haddonfield, have three grown children and 3 grandchildren, enjoy travelling, and look forward to continuing to grow their Forget Me Knot Flowers organization.
Leona’s favorite quote comes from Mother Teresa… “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”