CHICAGO — Jessica Housley isn’t a florist. But her kitchen portrays a different story with fresh flowers, jars and handscribbled notes.
“I love making the bouquets. It relaxes me,” she said. “I get really happy.”
The only thing that gives her more pleasure than making the bouquets is the thrill of finding them a new home.
“I try to choose places that I know will have high traffic where a lot of people will be coming through,” she said.
Housley is the founder of With Love Chicago.
She places a sweet bouquet for an unsuspecting stranger to find.
“I find myself smiling … anticipating someone is going to pick it up and be surprised by this little bouquet of flowers that will hopefully make their day,” she said.
Housley has lost count of the number of bouquets she has snuck into tiny corners of Chicago over the last six years and she never knows exactly who will be blessed by her random act of kindness.
Housley created an Instagram account with the same hashtag #withlovechicago found on all her vases.
“Some of the messages it leaves me in tears sometimes because life is hard,” she said.
There are stories of heartbreak, a death in the family or just a low moment. And the recipients are touched by a bouquet somehow meant for them.
Gabrielle Dyson was a bouquet recipient.
“Standing at the cash machine I saw a bouquet on the table and then saw it said it was for me. I instantly burst into tears,” she said.
She was so moved, Dyson began searching for others who found their own jar of flowers in hopes they could collectively pay it forward.
Fast forward to a gathering of 11 strangers bonded by bouquets and connected because of a single gesture of kindness.
So the next time you spot a small jar of flowers, there’s a good chance someone left them there just for you.