Local florist determined to start over despite loss of home, business

Local florist determined to start over despite loss of home, business
Bonnie Arnold

Long before Irma, Bonnie Arnold worked for about 25 years as a director of nonprofit organizations, with a focus on fundraising. She helped to open three charter schools in Duval County that help students who have dropped out to re-engage their academics. She was one of the founders of PawPrints, the annual painting of the Jaguar paw prints on Bay Street.

In 2004, Arnold retired from nonprofit work, purchased a charming home in St. Nicholas with a building at the back of the property and set up shop as a floral designer.

On Sept. 11, 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed both Arnold’s home and her livelihood.

Having evacuated to Atlanta during the hurricane, Arnold came back to find she had nothing left. Her Sept. 14 Facebook post touched the hearts of the many, including Joanne Kazmierski, who set up a GoFundMe page to raise $25,000 for Arnold.

My reality

When you have your cup of coffee this morning…I no longer have a coffee pot, or a toaster or a microwave or a frying pan or spray oil.

When you open the fridge…I no longer have a fridge…I also no longer have mayonnaise or mustard or milk or eggs or…the list is endless.

When you go to the bathroom…I no longer have towels or toilet paper or tissues or South of France bar soap or Band-Aids…

When you go to your pantry…I no longer have a box of saltines w/o salt, flour, sugar, salt, pepper or any spices or olive oil or vinegar.

I not only don’t have a bed…I don’t have sheets, or blankets, fluffy comforters, pillows, electric blanket, a clock, a bedside table or a lamp.

Although flood insurance will rebuild Arnold’s home in the next year or so, it does not cover any living costs in the interim and she must continue to faithfully pay her mortgage.

When Arnold evacuated with “Blossom” – her eight-foot-by-four-foot trailer – she took her dog, cat, computer, passport, photos of her children and a tiny mantle clock.

Devastated by her losses, Arnold said she is grateful for what she has.

While friends like Kazmierski and fellow members of the Women Business Owners have donated to the GoFundMe account, Riverside residents Wayne Wood and Lana Shuttleworth invited Arnold to take up “open-ended” residence in the garage apartment behind Wood’s historic home – an invitation she has accepted.

“I’m overwhelmed at the outpouring of generosity and love coming to me from this community,” said Arnold, who is in her 70s. “I’ve discovered that my house and shop are toxic. The ‘forever home’ I bought in 2004 is no more, so I’m not going back. I’m going forward. I’m going to find a new life in a new place.”

To help Arnold get a start on her new life, go to www.gofundme.com/Bonnie-Arnold, or send a check to P. O. Box 5094, Jacksonville, FL 32247. And, by the way, Bonnie is still filling orders for flowers on her website at Bonnie Floral Designs.

By Susan D. Brandenburg
Resident Community News

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