To say that Valerie Banks has a big heart is a complete understatement.
She’s the coordinator for Flower Empower, which is a volunteer program of the Dream Foundation that delivers beautiful bouquets, fresh-baked cookies, and fine chocolates to those in need in Santa Barbara’s hospitals, hospices, cancer centers, and private homes. During the week, you’ll see Valerie in the foundation’s parking lot supervising an army of volunteers as they tenderly arrange gifts with a kaleidoscopic of flower petals blanketing their feet. You’ve probably also seen their big colorful van, emblazoned with the smile-inducing “Flower Empower!” logo, driving around town, and Valerie is always behind the wheel.
So on this week before Thanksgiving, I salute Valerie Banks and her volunteers, and I’m grateful she took time to answer the Proust Questionnaire.
What is your most marked characteristic?
To ensure everyone has a good time with food and drink; that must come from my catering days
What is your motto?
Don’t worry; it will all get done in time.
What do you like most about your job?
Giving to those who are in need of a little happiness and joy with a bouquet of flowers, card, and cookie. Such a small gesture on our part, but so large for the person receiving it. The smile, hug, or a heartfelt thank-you card received afterward is so rewarding.
What do you most value in friends?
To be there with you when the going gets tough as well as when you are on top of the mountain
What is your greatest extravagance?
Traveling, whether a camping trip in Yosemite, a weekend in New York City with my best friend, or a day trip up the coast for lunch in Cambria. My biggest extravagance is an annual pass to Disneyland. I go at least three or four times a year.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A good party with family, friends, good food, and wine!!!
What is your greatest fear?
Missing a great moment with my grandkids, such as a graduation or wedding.
Who do you most admire and why?
My two sons for becoming wonderful men and fathers, and for being there for their mom.
What is your current state of mind?
Right now confused on how to answer these questions!
What is the quality you most like in people?
Honest, faithful, kind, funny, hard-working.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Dishonest, fake, rude, negative, lazy.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Which talent would you most like to have?
To play the piano. Is it too late to take lessons?? I should add that to my bucket list.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To better relax. To take a day and do nothing
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising three boys in Santa Barbara as a single mom.
Where would you most like to live?
Santa Barbara is great, born and raised. If not here, a small village in France with a garden and chickens.
What is your most treasured possession?
Time with my grandkids if you can call that a possession.
What makes you laugh the most?
YouTube videos that my grandson sends. Also Robin Williams and Lucille Ball. I have all the I Love Lucy episodes on VHS.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Does Lucille Ball count?
On what occasion do you lie?
“White lies” only to spare someone.