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Woman started Baycrest flower sale to cope with grief

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Sarah Krybus Fishman with son Adam and daughter Michelle

After Sarah Krybus Fishman lost her mother, father and brothers within the span of about 10 years, to deal with her grief, she organized a fundraiser to honour her loved ones by giving back to an institution that meant so much to her family.

For the past three years, Fishman has run a semi-annual flower sale called Bubby’s Blooms to raise funds for Baycrest Health Sciences, where she and her late brother visited her late parents every day for 11 years.

Fishman said the event is “in honour of all bubbies and a tribute to my mother Rachel, who loved everything about flowers – their aroma, vibrant colours and the good cheer they spread.”

On April 9, just in time for Pesach, people walking through the Baycrest Winter Garden in the Apotex Centre Jewish Home for the Aged will have the opportunity to buy three bunches of flowers for $10.

There is also an option to pre-purchase flowers for $15 and have them delivered in a vase to Baycrest residents.

The funds raised will go toward the Krybus Family Fund, which supports quality-of-life programming at Baycrest.

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Fishman said throughout the 11 years she spent visiting her parents at Baycrest, she became very familiar with the way it operated.

“We actually had a very good feel about how Baycrest was run, and obviously we were extremely happy. There was no question we felt we got exceptional care for both of our parents the entire time they were there,” Fishman said.

When her parents passed away – and then her brother died about three months after her father in December 2014 – she said she wanted to do something that would honour their memories and also help her feel better.

“My mother loved flowers, my father loved $10, and we all loved Baycrest, so I said, well, let me see if I can even put this together,” Fishman recalled.

“As sad I was, and still continue to be when I think about my loved ones, these are the days of the year that I feel extremely happy. So it’s nice.”

Although the flower sales in the past honoured Fishman’s mother, Bubby Rachel, this upcoming sale will honour her aunt, Stella Nirenberg, affectionately known as Bubby Stella.

“Every Passover, Bubby Stella would bake sponge cakes, honey cakes and cookies for her immediate and extended family – approximately 12 cakes – a tradition she continued well into her 80s. It was a labour of love.”

Fishman said her children, Adam, Michelle and Danielle, who are in their 20s, have also become involved in the semi-annual fundraiser.  She said her son reached out to a friend, Adi Barel, the b’nai mitzvah program leader for Congregation Habonim, who brought her class to Baycrest to help with past sales.

“So what we have is 12-year-olds, 20-year-olds, my generation, which is 50-year-olds, and we have seniors, so we’re hitting four generations. Everyone has a wonderful time, everyone is thrilled and it’s all good,” Fishman said.

“We’re happy to raise money for Baycrest. As far as I am concerned, the whole time I was there, it didn’t matter how much money they had, it was never enough. They are constantly trying to improve the facility.”

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Fishman said although she has a personal goal of raising about $10,000 at each sale, her real intention is to establish the fundraiser as an event that continues for years to come.

“The thing for me is that I want to keep it going in perpetuity. I’ve already told my children… this is something your grandparents would really have loved, and I’d like it to continue. My thing is as long as you have people that you love who are at Baycrest, or may go to Baycrest, I’d like you to do this,” she said.

“If I think about where Baycrest started on Cecil Street [downtown] and where they are today, it’s amazing. And that is how I feel about the flower sale. Where it started three years ago and where it may be 50 years from today is really what my goal is. I’d like to be able to make a financial difference to Baycrest.”

To donate to the Krybus Family Fund or pre-order flowers, click here, or contact Joanne Gittens at [email protected]