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Rachel's Kids was created because young men from Binghampton showed up at the shop looking for work.

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Rachel's Kids

Embracing Binghampton and Gaining Gratitude

Rachel’s Flower Shop is a familiar name to most Memphians. The business was created more than 65 years ago by Mark and Patricia Hammond, who started modestly with a small workroom on Poplar Avenue and named their business for their daughter Rachel. Rachel grew up working in the shop. “Daddy worked the outside of the store in his suspenders smoking a Parliament cigarette, mom worked the books and wrote a personal note to each customer and I created flower arrangements and manned the front desk,” she recalls.

What many Memphians might not know is that eponymous owner Rachel Greer is busy doing a lot more for our city than arranging flowers. Along with her late husband Harry, Rachel created an organization called Rachel’s Kids to help the children living in the Binghampton area. “We did not intend to start a nonprofit or to be surrounded by kids twenty four-seven. Harry and I thought we had successfully raised two children that were college bound and it was time to relax and play. Oh my, did the good Lord have a different plan for us when our shop relocated to Binghampton and young boys aged seven to thirteen would come to the shop asking for work.”

At first, Rachel and Harry were reluctant to allow the boys to work in the store. But the boys were persistent and they became staples at the shop, sweeping and helping to their cars. Gradually, the boys and their sisters and families became a more permanent fixture in Rachel’s and Harry’s lives. “Each afternoon when we left the store, the kids would wrestle one another to see how many could jump in our car and go home with us. We would take them swimming at my mom’s house and feed them. Those kids were always hungry. They could eat nonstop.”

Once Rachel and Harry became involved in the children’s lives they realized the importance of living near them and investing in their community. So they bought a home in Binghampton and immersed themselves completely in the lives of the families who lived there. “Right away we began to realize that many of the children struggled in school, so we started a tutoring program well before we were a nonprofit. Lots of local high school students needed community hours and came to volunteer. I never realized that every kid did not have the advantage of getting poster boards, folders and markers for their school projects.”

So Harry and Rachel helped them get the necessary school supplies as well as clothing and transportation to school and other activities. They attended church with the neighborhood kids. Rachel’s church, Central Christian, embraced the kids and sold them their church bus for $1 to help bring in as many kids as possible. “Harry and I knew most of the kids were not coming to church for the sermon but for the excursion after church to a new restaurant. But we were thrilled that they were hearing the same familiar message from all the many churches we attended: love your neighbor.”

And love your neighbor is exactly what Rachel and Harry continued to do. They opened their store on Wednesdays, their day off, to support the Children with Disabilities Program in Memphis city schools. The children were allowed to arrange flowers in beautiful vases with the help of Rachel’s many friends as volunteers. They helped John and Judy Lang open and run a free healthcare clinic in Binghampton, which has since closed. They even helped neighbors who had fallen on hard times purchase homes. “Harry and I realized that many of these families needed help. We were not independently wealthy and so we borrowed from our own home so that we could help families who deserved to be living in better environments purchase their own homes.”

Now they are able to do even more with the help of generous donors and the creation of the nonprofit Rachel’s Kids. Through this organization, Rachel is able to help children attend summer camp, pay for portions of college tuition and fees and provide furniture and clothing that has been generously donated.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel a few months ago. A friend told me that Rachel’s Flowers would gladly accept used floral containers. So, I cleaned out my attic and headed her way. We got into a long conversation about her passion for helping others while one of “Rachel’s kids” helped me haul the containers out of my car.

Reflecting on the success of her floral business, Rachel credits the strong relationships that were formed with customers beginning with her parents. “The part of the business that I enjoy is building relationships with people. We have been there with our customers at some of the happiest times and some of the saddest moments.” Many of these customers are the most important providers of support for Rachel’s nonprofit. When I was in the store, Rachel told me about a young man from Binghampton who received a full scholarship to Vanderbilt. He wanted to go but couldn’t afford to buy the necessary items to furnish his dorm room. Rachel reached out to one of her customers to see if she would be willing to help. That customer was thrilled to be able to take the young man shopping to get all the items necessary to start the year off right.

Betsy and Richard Shaw, together with their church Advent Presbyterian, began supplying boxes of Christmas cheer to 14 Binghampton families. About 10 years later they were wrapping and delivering gifts to over 700 families with the aid of 4 Suburbans and a trailer! There are numerous stories like these from churches and individuals around the city who connect with Rachel and want to touch the lives of those in need.

At the store that day, Rachel lamented that not all of Rachel’s kids had found success. There have been prison sentences, drownings and shootings. She has attended a lot of funerals over the years. Rachel even told me about the time her car was stolen and she discovered that two of the young men involved were part of the Rachel’s Kids program. Rather than being angry, however, Rachel was sympathetic. “My favorite slogan is: ‘Don’t judge people for the choices they make if you don’t know the options they had to pick from.’” Rachel is well aware of the difficult situations many of these kids are experiencing. “I have seen the effects of drama in the home and what the kids must do just to survive. I have witnessed the sadness and effects of eviction that happen in my kids’ lives regularly. I saw the fear in their faces when they worried if they would have heat in the winter and a roof over their heads.”

While Rachel has given so much to the community, she is grateful for the opportunity to help. “I give gratitude to the Lord every day for allowing this to be my path. I will forever be grateful to the people and the churches and the organizations who embraced us and gave me the opportunity to be in the lives of some of the finest kids and families. Step out of the box. It is slippery sometimes, but the reward of making a difference changes lives and will be what changes Memphis to be the loving and caring and safe city we all want it to be and know it is capable of being.”

Rachel encourages our readers to shop locally. “Build a relationship with businesses in your neighborhood. Get involved with any organization that speaks to your heart, whether it is hands on or financially,” she urges. If you are interested in learning more or donating to Rachel’s Kids, please visit

  • Friends, donors and volunteers, like Betsy and Richard Shaw, are the backbone behind Rachel's Kids.
  • Friends, donors and volunteers, like Betsy Shaw, are the backbone behind Rachel's Kids.
  • "We were not on a mission and not any type of ministry. We were just trying to do some good in the world and make a better place for these kids.” - Rachel Greer
  • Rachel's Kids was created because young men from Binghampton showed up at the shop looking for work.
  • Rachel Greer, with her late husband Harry, has developed lasting relationships in the Binghampton community.