FlowerPower founder Nancy Lawlor
Photo: Blaise Hayward
Living in new york city on a clerical temp's salary, Nancy Lawlor had her own Holly Golightly tradition. Instead of breakfast, though, it was lunchtime, and instead of Tiffany's, it was the Waldorf-Astoria hotel's ornate block-long lobby. And instead of diamonds, she'd go stare at the flowers—in particular the lilies, roses, and orchids in the hotel's enormous urns. I bet those get thrown out, she thought. Lawlor convinced a manager to turn over $2,000 worth of pink roses, which she arranged into 20 bouquets and delivered to nearby Lenox Hill Hospital. This small act of goodwill blossomed into the nonprofit FlowerPower. Since February 2003, 34-year-old Lawlor and hundreds of volunteers have delivered more than $1.2 million worth of flowers to patients in hospices, nursing homes, and hospitals in New York City and Los Angeles—all thanks to donations from upscale hotels, event planners, and celebrities (Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay gave her wedding arrangements). "This is something that could be nationwide—in every big city," says Lawlor, whose dream is to repurpose flowers from the Academy Awards and the next Inaugural Ball. "There are people who collect the food that would be thrown out," she says. "We're taking care of the spirit."