Pipestone man brightens nursing home residents’ days with weekly flower arrangements
PIPESTONE — How would it feel to randomly receive a bouquet of flowers without any inclination who sent them?
Pipestone nursing home residents know that feeling all too well, as they’ve been receiving anonymous arrangements weekly for the past seven months.
It’s all in part thanks to one man, whose innocent motivation has simply been to bring a smile to someone’s face who could use it most.
Until recently, he’s accomplished this act of kindness completely under the radar, other than to a small group of individuals who have helped him pull off his selfless deed.
After watching him routinely order, purchase and deliver flower arrangements every Friday to the Good Samaritan Society in Pipestone, the florists couldn’t keep it a secret any longer. In honor of Valentine’s Day, Pipestone Floral publicly shared a photo on its Facebook page of “the original Cupid,” Mike Dubbelde, with an armful of flowers ready for what would have been well over his 30th delivery since he began his project sometime in late summer.
“I wanted to give credit where credit was due,” said florist Amanda Brandt, who posted the photo with Mike’s permission.
Like clockwork, the girls at the flower shop have come to expect to see Mike twice weekly. He shows up personally on Tuesdays to order the four weekly flower arrangements, and again on Fridays to pick them up for delivery to the Good Samaritan Society.
“If he’s not on time, he’s calling,” Brandt said of the man the florists clearly adore.
Mike remembers the quick transition from an idea sparking in his head to becoming his weekly routine.
In July, he’d read in the Pipestone County Star that a new floral shop was opening in Pipestone’s historic downtown. He’d love to get flowers for his wife, he thought.
“But we lost her to breast cancer six years ago,” he said with sadness — thinking of Donnette, his “livewire” of a wife for 48 years.
His mind traveled next to his late mother. He recalls visiting her more than a decade ago at what was then Ashton Care Center and noticing a flower in her room.
“I asked, ‘Well Mom, where’d this come from?’” Mike said he asked his mother, Jeanne. “‘Well, I don’t know,’ she told me. She was just happy as a lark.”
As Pipestone Floral Owner Gina Rauk remembers, Mike didn’t waste any time pitching his idea to the floral shop that opened July 17, 2018.
“I think Mike came in July 18,” Rauk said. “He was the first person in the store.”
The idea traveled next to Jenny Alvarez, the activity director at Good Sam. She was on board instantly.
“I was gushing over it,” she said. “He just wants the residents to smile. It warmed my heart.”
The two have even formed a special friendship, as they share a cup (or two) of coffee while discussing their week — the good and the bad.
“It’s my favorite part of the week,” Alvarez said.
Once the coffee pot ran dry Mike would typically then be on his way, while Alvarez would dole out the arrangements to residents who could use a smile that week.
That changed last week. For the first time, Mike personally delivered the week’s four flower arrangements to residents who were on Alvarez’s list.
They were excited to meet the mystery man behind the “Random Rose” program, commenting how they rarely get flowers and that the beautiful arrangements made their day.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Alvarez said Mike isn’t only appreciated by Good Sam’s residents, but also its staff. He’s quick to volunteer to spend time with residents around the holiday and made all staff members feel special around Valentine’s Day, Alvarez said, adding that the world could use more “Mikes.”
“You don’t see it anymore — it’s all about the negative,” she said. “Mike made me believe in humanity again.”