When Tampa Bay’s Jim Overton retired after more than 40 years as a painting contractor, his wife quickly noticed that boredom and lack of activity were affecting his mood. She, along with their friend and RAF Tampa Bay Board Member Pam Ora, suggested that Random Acts of Flowers might be a good way for him to stay active, make friends, and contribute to the community. Now, Jim volunteers at RAF Tampa Bay several times a week, delivering hope to people who need it most.
We sat down to talk with Jim about his experiences and why he
thinks more people should support Random Acts of Flowers.
How did you get started volunteering at RAF Tampa Bay?
I volunteered to drive the van for a delivery and was asked to come on in and deliver flowers. We went in and it was surprisingly rewarding to be able to deliver the flowers to people. I told them “We’re doing this to bring a smile to your face,” and I loved it.
I had become really depressed and was sitting around feeling sorry for myself. This is just fulfilling. Now I look forward to the next time I get to do it.
What is your favorite delivery story?
I’ve had several people – men and women – break down in tears, crying, “I’ve never had flowers delivered before. Ever.”
I had one lady who said, “I was going to have an order of edible arrangements delivered to me, just to have something delivered and here you are delivering flowers to me.” We just made her day.
I delivered one time on St. Patty’s Day and a lady said “I got flowers delivered by a leprechaun!” I have reddish hair and I look Irish, so she was laughing about that. It’s just a great feeling to bring a lot of smiles to so many people.
Mainly, it’s just surprising people and seeing the smiles and the joy that we can really bring to people. I love telling others about it and helping them understand that it’s such a good thing that we’re doing for the community, letting them know that’s it’s an organization that’s helping the whole community.
Why do you feel Random Acts of Flowers is a good fit for you?
I try to be upbeat, fun-loving, and wanting to do whatever I can to help whenever I can. I hate to say “no,” which is a really good thing, I think.
What do your family and friends think about you volunteering at RAF Tampa Bay?
They’re so proud of me and they say it’s such a wonderful thing that I’m doing. They can see that I get a lot of pleasure and enjoyment out of it. They can tell, when I’m talking about it, that I’m so positive about it. I love sharing the experience that I’ve had with making so many people happily surprised that they’re getting flowers for – it seems like – no reason at all. They just think it’s the greatest thing.
I tell everybody I meet that volunteering at RAF is a great thing to do, and there are so many different ways that you can contribute.
What do you like to do when you’re not volunteering?
I love boating. I have a pontoon boat, and we’re constantly trying to find time to get out on that. I love relaxing and enjoying nature. I was talking to Chris Lambton (HGTV expert landscaper who visited Tampa Bay for GROW 2016), telling him how my yard was just like how he explained the landscaping trends with paths and fountains and a fishpond. I could really relate to him and what he does.
Did you enjoy GROW and meeting the celebrity speaker, Chris Lambton?
Oh, yeah, it was a blast! At the end of the night, he gave me a big bro hug! I enjoyed delivering flowers with him and Larsen (RAF founder and CEO) at the hospital, too.
Is there anything else you think our readers should know?
I would love to see more people have the opportunity to get involved and reap the rewards of volunteering.
I get a lot of pleasure out of it, and know other people would, too.