“I have a strong faith that God has a plan for all of our lives. And sometimes, it’s a surprise,” stated Robyn Lieber.
Robyn is a mother of four daughters, and worked as a caretaker most of her life, a retired nurse and counselor, in hospitals, assisted living facilities, and the local domestic violence shelter. In 2014, she started a card sending ministry. More than 8,000 cards with handwritten messages of hope and encouragement have been sent out to people all over the Siouxland community and beyond from Robyn.
Then, in 2020, amid the COVID pandemic, Robyn got a phone call from her daughter, Amber.
“Amber had been scrolling through Instagram, and she’d come across a non-profit in Omaha called Second Chance Bouquets. She said, ‘Mom, this is what you do all the time. I think it would be such a great idea if you would try to start a non-profit and be able to include other people in it’.”
After careful consideration and planning, Robyn launched Sweet Like Honey, her nonprofit 501 (c)(3) charity, in July of 2022. The mission of the organization is to enrich lives by sharing unexpected kindness through the gift of repurposed flowers and words of encouragement.
“The name of the charity is based on a bible verse, Proverbs 16:24, ‘Kind words are like honey, sweet for the soul and healthy for the body.’ The whole idea of bringing fresh flowers inside to somebody who doesn’t get to experience nature much is bringing colors, scents, and textures into the room. There is actual research that’s been done to show that fresh flowers enrich lives. If we can enrich the lives of the lonely, the sick, and the discouraged . . . I mean that’s what it’s all about. An unexpected act of kindness to encourage people,” said Robyn.
Vases and flowers are donated to the charity often by families after celebrations of life and/or weddings, but people can also reach Robyn through the charity’s website: www.sweetlikehoneyinc.org, or by email at email@example.com.
People wanting to get involved with the charity can donate vases, flowers, money, stamps, or donate time. At different times during the year, such as breast cancer awareness month, Robyn purchases specific flowers for the bouquets to be delivered to someone fighting breast cancer or for a family in remembrance of someone lost to breast cancer.
“If working with flowers isn’t your thing, we also need people to go pick up flowers or vases. Or you can deliver the bouquets once they’re completed. I don’t know a lot about computers, so that aspect of the business, if you are good with that, we could use the help, or even keeping the books. No act of kindness is too small, and an act of kindness is never wasted,” commented Robyn.
Although the charity is based in her home at the moment, Robyn has hopes of operating in a storefront in the future. She would love to have the charity be able to assist area organizations and groups such as the scouts, as a way for earning badges through donating their time and talents, college sororities, or Bible study groups.
“We aren’t in competition with any of the areas flower shops. In fact, when we get vases at times that are too big for our purposes, I take them to the area florists for them to use. The whole reusing, repurposing something, it’s recycling at its finest,” said Robyn.
When a funeral home donates the leftover flowers from a celebration of life ceremony to Sweet Like Honey, they bring the flowers to Robyn’s home in South Sioux City. Robyn then takes the floral arrangements and places them on the big wooden worktable, and starts breaking down the arrangement into smaller bouquets.
“I’ll give the flowers a fresh cut, some fresh water, and plant food, and they are ready to be repurposed to brighten someone’s day instead of being put in the landfill,” said Robyn.
However, on a more somber note, Robyn also recognizes how some of the flower arrangements became available to her organization and to others.
“The opportunity to do all of this is because somebody had to lose someone in order for me to bless somebody. I take that as a huge honor,” said Robyn.
When asked if Robyn saw herself doing this, starting a charity, at any point in her life, her response might surprise you.
“If you asked me a year ago in February if this is what I saw myself doing in a year, I would have said no. But you have to be willing to do the hard stuff; you have to learn how to do the scary stuff that you don’t know how to do. Each day I step into doing stuff that still causes me some anxiety and fear because it’s something new for me. I’m in the later season of my life, I’m 60. But it’s important for me to leave a legacy that’s about kindness. I want to share that with the community because I know that we have a lot of great people here in Siouxland,” stated Robyn.
To hear more of the conversation about Sweet Like Honey, turn in to Siouxland Magazine’s Nonprofit Spotlight on Facebook.
By Amy Buster