"If there ever was a person on this planet that I knew for sure was an angel in disguise, it was John.” – Josh Franklin
Jean 'John' Youssef Jilwan, more affectionately known as 'John, The Flower Man' passed away peacefully in his home on September 3rd, 2020.
In his 67 years with us, he spread love, good cheer and pure happiness in all that he did, most notably through his passion of sharing joy through flowers. It was more than the act of selling flowers for my dear Uncle, it was about creating lifelong bonds and both loving and taking care of his community of Anchorage, Alaska. In his time with us, he formed countless relationships with others and genuinely and deeply cared for their well-being. He was blessed to engage with his 'second family'--the citizens of Anchorage, and sell them flowers for well over 40 years. Many became dear friends of his, with some even looking up to him as a family member, calling him 'Dad' and 'Uncle'. How truly blessed we all are for having had him in our lives.
If you knew John, you couldn't help but love him. John loved you for you. He loved, remembered and cared for everyone deeply. He truly was an angel in disguise.
My sweet Uncle was born and raised in Lebanon, before coming to Anchorage, Alaska--his second home, that welcomed and embraced him so lovingly for 43 years. As you may know, Lebanon was already in dire economic turmoil and unprecedented inflation preceding the Covid-19 pandemic; its misfortunes have only grown since the August 4th, 2020 Beirut (capital of Lebanon) port explosion that saw over 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate explode, leaving over 200 dead, over 6000 injured and 300,000 displaced.
The legacy he created in his short time with us is one that all that knew and loved him are committed to continuing. In that light, I have formed this GoFundMe account in hopes of raising funds for Beit el Baraka, which translates to 'House of Blessings' in Arabic. Just as my Uncle was a blessing to so many, this non-profit, non-governmental organization is as well. Mission: to ensure a sense of dignity to hard-working citizens once they retire, by assisting them in their struggle with the increasing cost of living. Beit el Baraka's Vision: In a spirit of respect and support, we aim to provide a tailor-made accurate and beneficial response to Lebanon’s economic and multi-dimensional challenges that are depriving many retired citizens of their most basic needs and rights. Their website: https://www.beitelbaraka.org/
On the website, you will meet the team behind this non-profit offering a free supermarket, decent housing, medical support and efforts to create a resilient, regenerative and restorative food system. Currently, almost 2 million Lebanese cannot afford their daily meals. In honouring John, let's help change such dire circumstances.
Almost half of the population has fallen below the poverty line from all the misfortunes plaguing my Uncle's native country. According to local assessments, following the recent port explosion, as many as 500,000 more people, in addition to the 2 million already struggling, may need assistance with immediate needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. It is both our honour and civic duty, in continuing John's legacy, to help a cause that speaks very closely to my dear Uncle's heart.
Thank you and may God continue blessing you and yours.