May 17, 2022
Dana Lyons’ non-profit, Street Sisters Society, gifts bouquets of flowers to a Senior Supportive Living facility, where a group volunteers their time to make up shampoo kits and period packs for folks in need. The flowers in each bouquet are all grown from seed in Lyons’ backyard and include lavatera, sunflowers, cinnamon basil, bells of Ireland, zinnia, cosmos and dill. Photo by Dana Lyons
Story by Vanessa Gomez | Photo by Dana Lyons
CALGARY — Dana Lyons has been nurturing her green thumb for a great cause.
This technical practice manager for Pharmacy Services has been growing flowers since the spring of 2020, creating beautiful bouquets to gift to people who have supported a non-profit she co-founded — the Street Sisters Society.
Her organization is dedicated to providing basic life necessities to individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty in Calgary. Items such as food, warm clothing, harm-reduction supplies and hygiene kits are provided.
“After a tragic accident and death at the family cabin in 2019, I wanted to see beautiful things again,” says Lyons. “When the pandemic hit, I just started growing flowers to heal my own heart. When you grow flowers, so much care goes into that one beautiful bloom. I wanted to take that care and beauty and share this beyond my own backyard.”
In her first year, Lyons converted her entire backyard into a flowerbed, growing more than 1,000 tulips and 2,400 sunflowers. She gives unique bouquets to anyone who supports Street Sisters Society with donations or with their time helping to make lunches, including residents of a Supportive Living Centre who make the hygiene kits and period packs. She also sold more than 200 bouquets and put the money back into the non-profit to pay for food or supplies.
“People are always amazed because these are not ordinary flowers,” she adds. “They have beautiful colour palettes you don’t often find in ordinary flower beds. When people pick one up, or they’re gifted a bouquet, you see their face light up.”
The experience of growing flowers for her non-profit has given Lyons a new perspective.
“It has really changed how I approach my life,” she says. “You start to understand how critical and essential mental health is to everyone.
“The access to mental health resources I have is quite good. I was able to find myself after going through some very challenging times, and that is largely because I have an extraordinary support system. I compare that to folks who don’t have that same access or support, and it humbles you and reminds you how fragile things can be.”
Lyons’ colleagues have taken notice of her passion for helping others in the community
‘Dana is one of those rare individuals who’s somehow always able to make time for her family, friends, colleagues and community,” says Robert Vretenar, executive director of Provincial Operations, Pharmacy Services.
“Dana’s passion for helping those in need is unparalleled in her AHS position, so learning about her efforts in the community is another great example of how she actively lives her values.”
She has also inspired her colleagues to contribute in any way they can.
“We have a small group of pharmacists and friends who make lunches twice a month. They make 65 lunches and have never missed a Monday,” says Lyons. “They’ve spearheaded Christmas collection kits and hospital collections of warm coats and mitts. Their commitment and generosity have been extraordinary and we are so grateful for each one of them.
“People often think to make a difference in the world, they have to make a huge contribution. But every small act of kindness counts towards making tomorrow just a little bit better than today.”