By Danielle Morin
“Love lives on.”
That is how Whitney Larkin described her recent holiday outreach project. Larkin visited Holston Valley Medical Center on Monday, Dec. 19, to donate flower arrangements to each of Wilcox Hall’s 30 rooms in honor of her late mother, Teri Gilliam.
Before her passing, Gilliam ran a small business creating arrangements for hospital patients. Her business, which serviced the entire Tri-Cities region as well as Southwest Virginia, aimed to bring joy to those hospitalized at places like the Ballad Health facility. “She would make them or take them arrangements just to make them smile,” Larkin said of her mother’s business.
Larkin said, following her mother’s passing, “She had a lot of flower vases left over from previous clients that she would take them to,” adding, “I just thought, ‘What in the world am I going to do with thirty-plus flower arrangements? What can I do with these that would make someone smile from her so that her love lives on?’ And then it just hit me.”
Larkin said the target for the donations was no-brainer. “We decided to take them back to the last place she was that really made her smile. There were some special folks there on Wilcox [Hall] that really touched us, touched her,” she said, explaining that Gilliam spent her final days on Wilcox Hall like many of her clients. “So I said, ‘What an appropriate place is Wilcox Hall,’ because a lot of those folks are her clientele demographic – they’re older or they’re disabled or they’re end of life care a lot of the time.”
Larkin said, in addition to the vases, she also used funds left over after Gilliam’s passing to purchase the ribbons, artificial flowers, and fillers for the vases, so that she could credit the entire donation as being, “genuinely from her.”
In addition to the vases, Larkin also found various medical equipment that she was able to donate to Encompass Health. Larkin said Gilliam, who was the Power of Attorney for many of her clients, gained all sorts of equipment from them as a result, including walkers, shower chairs, and wheelchairs. Larkin said Encompass Health, “accepts used medical equipment for their charity patients,” so she felt like the donations were fitting to help them in furthering their mission.
Larkin said she hopes the project will allow her mother to continue her community outreach, even in her passing. “She’s gone, but the way that she conducted her business and her impact, it carries on,” she said.