Jeanine Amato donated 160 red roses to Momentum at South Bay Rehabilitation and Nursing in East Islip on March 20. Credit: Jeanine Amato

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Jeanine Amato says that although technically the government considers her business nonessential, “my community thinks otherwise.”

Amato, 45, owns Country Village Florist and Gifts in East Islip. Since the coronavirus outbreak, she’s been running operations on her own. Amato said she is trying to support Long Islanders during this pandemic the best way she knows how: providing blooming bouquets and colorful floral arrangements to those most in need of a smile.

Every day during her drive to work — from Smithtown to East Islip — Amato passes Momentum at South Bay Rehabilitation and Nursing. The nursing home has restricted visitation until further notice. The staff at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore received 45 vases of flowers from Jeanine Amato. Credit: Jeanine Amato In recent weeks on her way to the shop, which for now does curbside pickups and deliveries only, she felt helpless passing Momentum every day.

“It just made me cry every time I drove past it, just thinking about these poor people,” Amato said. “It just made me think, what can I do? I know there isn’t too much I can do.”

“But I’m a florist,” she said, “and I have flowers.”

Amato is a board member of the East Islip Chamber of Commerce, and through that she knows one of the directors at Momentum. They discussed a plan, and with the go-ahead, Amato got to work: 160 red roses, each in its own vase with a handwritten note, penned by Amato herself. She delivered the flowers to the nursing home for residents to keep in their rooms.

The card on each rose said, simply, “You are loved.”

“My wheels are always turning with what I can do to help somebody else feel better, and that’s what I came up with,” Amato said. She noted that she received a phone call from a resident in the home, asking her why she’d sent him a flower. Amato explained to him that she did it so he would know he is loved and missed by those who cannot visit him.

“He said, ‘Thank you, I’ll give it to my favorite nurse,’ “ she said with a laugh. Jeanine Amato delivers flowers to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore. Credit: Jeanine Amato Amato also wanted to find a way to provide some life and color for local health care workers. She consulted her chamber of commerce contacts again and got to work on creating some floral arrangements for the staff at Southside Hospital.

“All the departments: medical billing, admitting, nursing stations,” she said. “They’re all in there and there’s nothing they can do but do their jobs.”

She’s familiar with the scene: Amato worked as a volunteer EMT with the North Babylon Fire Department for two […]