Members in Boston Plant Daffodils along Marathon Route
Contributed By Bishop Joseph Apke, Framingham Ward, Boston Massachusetts Stake
- The “Marathon Daffodils” project is a community-based initiative to brighten the path of the marathon participants next spring.
- The goal of the project was to line the Boston Marathon route with 100,000 daffodil bulbs.
- Relief Society members in the Boston Massachusetts Stake are actively helping missionaries become more involved in local service projects such as this.
“When we learned that our missionaries have been authorized to work with the members doing humanitarian work in our communities, we were thrilled.” —Jamie Larsen, Boston Massachusetts Stake Relief Society president
Members, missionaries, and friends of the Boston Massachusetts Stake spent time this fall planting daffodils in towns along the Boston Marathon route.
The project, called “Marathon Daffodils,” was held in response to bombs that exploded during the marathon on April 15, 2013. The bombs killed three people and injured an estimated 264 others.
As part of the project, volunteers throughout New England came together with top horticultural organizations to line the 26.2-mile route with bright yellow flowers that will bloom in time for the marathon next year—serving as an inspiration to runners and others that hope stands strong.
The plan was to plant 100,000 bulbs over a series of weekends.
Local Church leaders learned of the project and shared the idea with others in the Boston Massachusetts Stake, said Alison Packard, wife of Massachusetts Boston Mission President Daniel W. Packard. “The Boston stake Relief Society had recently offered to have its sisters help organize the humanitarian service hours of our missionaries. We were actively looking for opportunities where missionaries, members, and people of all faiths could work together on a project. We were asking for service referrals from the members, so when this opportunity came up, our missionaries were very excited to participate.”
On Saturday, October 19, Framingham Ward members and missionaries donned Mormon Helping Hands vests and joined local residents, businesses, and organizations in Ashland, Massachusetts. They planted the section of Ashland’s marathon route that stretches along Route 135.
Again on October 31, members of the Weston 2nd Ward, along with moms from the neighboring St. Paul’s Catholic School, dug trenches and planted bulbs in front of the historic town building in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Through November, members and missionaries continued working in Newton and in Boston at Kenmore Square and the Trinity Church in the Back Bay near the marathon finish line.
This project is one of several humanitarian efforts coordinated this year by the Boston stake Relief Society in which missionaries and members have worked together.
The members and missionaries have also helped build a playground with KaBoom, in a project sponsored by United Healthcare and Brandeis University; cleaned three riverbanks with a nonprofit called OARS; and cleaned the Needham Wellness Center.
With the support of the Boston stake presidency and Boston mission president, Relief Society sisters are finding that by helping to schedule missionary service, they are getting more involved too.
“When we learned that our missionaries have been authorized to work with the members doing humanitarian work in our communities, we were thrilled,” said Jamie Larsen, Boston Massachusetts Stake Relief Society president. “We began asking the missionaries about their own community service work and discovered that making connections with local charities was very difficult for them in our area. We knew that within our stake we had many Relief Society sisters with strong relationships with local charities and civic organizations, but not as much time available to volunteer with them. And conversely, our missionaries had time to serve but no long-term connections or relationships. So we set out to draw on these complementary strengths and weaknesses to help connect the missionaries.”
When members identify the service opportunities, it allows them to have conversations with co-workers, school friends, and neighbors who are already involved in community service activities, she explained. They express their appreciation and respect for their friends’ work and offer to recruit volunteers to work alongside them.
“We are hearing feedback and asking both men and women to be thinking about service,” said Sister Larsen. “So far the response is overwhelmingly positive.”