First Floral Shop in Garapan: A Double Dose of Goodness!

Saipan Tribune, First Floral Shop: A Double Dose of Goodness!

Rita Cruz is a quiet, unassuming woman. Beneath her calm demeanor beats the heart of a giving person. Rita is the owner of The First Floral Shop (in Garapan). Every year, around Valentine's Day, her shop works overtime to fulfill the orders and calls for everything from a single rose to elaborate floral arrangements.

First opened on June 15, 1981 (over 25 years ago), First Floral is truly unique in that it is one of the few locally owned businesses surviving and thriving in a down economy. When asked how she started her business, Rita thought carefully and recounted the story of her supervisor giving her flowers during Secretary Week. "My boss gave me flowers and I cried." That's what motivated her to open a floral shop - to be able to share that same great feeling when people receive flowers.

"I pioneered all these flower deliveries here on Saipan. Before that nobody delivered," she added.

Starting any business is scary, but starting one with little or no business background is terrifying. Rita learned on-the-job. It's all about the visual presentation, creativity, and imagination according to Rita.

"It's hard work. You always have to be on top of things -- the details."

Watching Rita work is like watching an artist. When she touched the flowers, she's able to bring them to life!

For Valentine's 2007, Rita and First Floral decided to try something very different...something special. She trained and hired mental health consumers to work in her shop. With six full-time staff members, Rita recruited six more (3 of whom are mental health consumers) to help handle the increased workload during Valentine's Day.

On Sunday, February 11, 2007, First Floral helped to break the stigmas of mental illness by inviting eight mental health consumers and their family members to its shop for a "crash-course" training on floral arrangement. Rita and her fantastic staff spent three hours training, reviewing, and critiquing each of the neatly, knotted bows and the single rose arrangements. They gave pointers and helped the mental health consumers to understand the art and science of floral arrangement. "By turning it a little bit, you can tell and find its best angle," she explained.

Rita spent almost one hour delicately arranging the roses while teaching the group. She took great pride is sharing with us that First Floral only uses flowers and roses directly from the U.S. "You can tell," she commented, referring to the subpar qualities of flowers from other countries.

The idea of a transitional and meaningful employment for the mental health consumers came from Kaye Christian as she works tirelessly to advocate for the rights of the mentally ill. Kaye started by asking Rita to help consumers learn how to make bows for Christmas wreaths.

Thanks to two wonderful women, Rita Cruz (owner of First Floral) and Kaye Christian (co-founder of CAMI-CNMI), mental health consumers started their paid jobs this week. Starting on Monday February 12 through Wednesday, February 14, 2007, the Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI (CAMI-CNMI), encourages the Northern Marianas community to stop by First Floral in Garapan (670.233.7482 or email: to support our home-grown floral shop and at the same time support the mission of CAMI-CNMI to rid our islands of the stigmas of mental illness. By gainfully employing qualified and competent mental health consumers, businesses like First Floral serve to shatter those erroneous beliefs and fears about the mentally ill. So if you're planning on getting flowers for your loved ones, please help our cause by getting them from First Floral Shop.

"Not only are we the first...we're the finest!" proclaims Rita.

CAMI-CNMI applauds the efforts of the First Floral Shop because of its "double-dose-of-goodness" commitment to: (1) Hire from the Existing Pool of Local Workers, and (2) Partnering and sharing in CAMI-CNMI's goal of community service and eradicating the stigmas of mental illness from our islands.

CAMI-CNMI's Community Business Partner:
The First Floral Shop (located in Garapan)
ph: 670.233.7482

For more information on how to get involved in CAMI-CNMI:
Steve Nguyen, Behavior Specialist
Co-Founder, CAMI-CNMI

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 2/12/2007 04:52:00 PM  


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