• <p>Five-year-old Allison Fackelman made paper flowers that were displayed at Rochester General Hospital. (Photo courtesy of Erin Velieri)  </p>

    Five-year-old Allison Fackelman made paper flowers that were displayed at Rochester General Hospital. (Photo courtesy of Erin Velieri)

Catholic-school student brings cheer to Rochester hospital

Jennifer Burke/Catholic Courier    |    07.01.2020
Category: Features


Allison Fackelman is only 5 years old, but she’s already familiar with the pleasure that comes from bringing a smile to someone else’s face.

In early May Allison — or Allie, as her family members and friends often call her — spent an entire Friday evening creating more than two dozen colorful flowers out of tissue paper. She sent those flowers to Rochester General Hospital with her grandmother, who is a nurse there, because she wanted to cheer up the hospital’s hardworking nurses, as well as the patients.

Allie was thrilled when she received positive feedback from some of the people who’d received her flowers.

“I got a picture of a nurse smiling with my flowers, and it made me happy,” recalled Allie, who recently completed kindergarten at Holy Cross School in the Charlotte neighborhood of Rochester.

Allie’s grandmother and her fellow nurses used the tissue-paper flowers to decorate the nurse’s station in their unit on the fifth floor, as well as the mobile workstations they push from room to room as they interact with patients.

“They sent pictures to let her know that her flowers decorated the entire unit for nurses and patients to enjoy,” explained Allie’s mom, Erin Velieri.

Velieri said she is proud of Allie, although she’s not exactly surprised that her daughter used her free time to help others. Allie had never undertaken a project quite this large before, but helping others already is a big part of who Allie is, her mother said.

Allie frequently goes out of her way to do extra things to help out around the house, and doing so makes her feel excited and proud, Velieri said.

“She’s always trying to make people happy and be helpful. It makes her feel good to know she is a good helper and a good friend to others,” Velieri said.

Allie is always thinking of others’ feelings and looking for ways to help those around her, which is what she was doing on the Friday evening when she came up with the idea for the tissue-paper flowers, Velieri added. Allie had never made the flowers before that evening, but once she got started, she didn’t want to stop.

“We were talking about who we could make the flowers for. She wanted to make a lot and said we can give them to Grandma. Then we talked about giving the rest out to people. I asked her who she thought the flowers would cheer up, and that’s when she said nurses and patients,” Velieri recalled.

Velieri’s mother brought the flowers into the hospital, and it wasn’t long before Allie began receiving photos of the flowers in their new environment. Velieri forwarded some of the photos to Mary Martell, principal of Holy Cross School, along with a note explaining what Allie had done. Martell posted one of the photos on the school’s Facebook page, along with a note praising the Holy Cross kindergartner.

“Holy Cross is very proud of our Allison Fackelman for a service project she initiated to bring joy to our health care workers and nurses at RGH,” Martell posted on Facebook. “We love our Allie!”

Allie, whom Martell described as “a spunky cutie,” said that although helping people makes her feel good, that is not the only reason she goes out of her way to help others.

“God wants us to help people and do kind things,” Allie remarked.

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