A ministry in bloom

by Kara Hansen 

SHAWNEE — If life’s not a bed of roses, you couldn’t tell it by Good Shepherd parishioners David and Terry Hahlen.

The couple, who recently celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary, are florists and have owned and operated Tanan Floral in North Kansas City for more than 30 years.

The two have created a store with a homelike, friendly atmosphere for both employees and customers. One daughter, Beth, and her husband, David, both work in the shop. And the shop is pet friendly.

Even unrelated employees are made to feel like part of the team.

“Working here is really more like being with family. Everyone laughs and gets along great,” said Glenda Bunch, a 10-year veteran of Tanan Floral’s computer and telephone sales.

The Hahlens, said Glenda, have built their business on a genuine service model, and one not of the standard “customer service” variety.

“Our customers really take priority, especially people who call in for help with funeral arrangements,” she said. “I’ve seen Terry drop whatever she’s doing and help a family. It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas season or Valentine’s Day — families come first.”

This is never truer than in the case of the loss of a loved one.

“Families calling in about a funeral take our highest consideration,” confirmed Terry. “The ones who have lost a child are especially hard to handle, but you have to be strong for them.

“You can’t cry, even when there are times you want to.”

The entire floral business is, in fact, an emotion-laden business. Besides funerals, other big business for florists revolves around anniversaries, births, and holidays.

“Ordering flowers has a strong emotion attached to it, and each order and person is different. That means each time we take a call we’re responding differently depending on the person and situation,” explained Terry.

The Hahlens say the Christmas season and Valentine’s Day are their busiest times of year, when they usually work almost nonstop.

“During our busy times, there are some nights we will be here until two in the morning and then come back at six to get the shop ready to open,” said Terry.

Not that she’s complaining. Terry readily admits she and David could have retired years ago, but the couple genuinely enjoys their work and has no intention of leaving yet.

“It’s really fun coming to work. The shop is bright and colorful even on dreary days, and the work is interesting — both because of the beautiful flowers and the great people we work with,” said Terry.

But the Hahlens’ passion for flowers — and service — does not stop at their shop doors.

They keep their parish church blossoming with donated flower arrangements worth $5,000 – $6,000 annually. And David designed and built wooden bamboo stands for displays near the altar.

“Whether it’s donating the Easter season lilies, spring blossoms and greenery that decorate our church, or the flowers for first Communion and confirmation celebrations — or even a centerpiece for the parish auction dinner at the rectory — theirs is truly a heart of generosity and love,” said Father Francis Hund, pastor of Good Shepherd.

“And that is just last month!” said the Shawnee pastor with a laugh.

Moreover, true to her Catholic faith, Terry consciously integrates the liturgical colors of each season or feast day into her flower arrangements.

On Marian feast days, her arrangements are blue and white. A combination of reds, yellows, and oranges are used on the feast of Christ the King. And three large flowers of three different kinds are used for Trinity Sunday.

The flowers themselves are selected with even greater care, like the star-of-Bethlehem used in Christmas arrangements.

“For Terry, the arrangement of flowers each week is a prayer,” said Father Hund. “The work of their hands is indeed a prayer and labor of love.”

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