Elderly, disabled people giving back as volunteers

Dozens of volunteers are helping with gardening chores in one town on Long Island.

Wally Kupferberg says age shouldn't matter. The almost 90-year-old World War II veteran is witty and wise and can prune bushes better than most people. He has been a gardener his whole life but the recent widower now lives in an assisted living facility with little work to do. Every Wednesday he volunteers at Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson, Long Island, where his enthusiasm and expertise is always welcome. Wally is sharp as a tool but had been turned away from other parks because of his age.

John Darcy is the deputy parks commissioner with the Town of North Hempstead says this program gives people with disabilities a chance to volunteer.

They hope to continue growing the special needs volunteer program by extending it to more veterans and other groups looking to help benefit the community.

Rona Van Mering, who is deaf-blind, is pulling weeds out of the pebbles. She works with Nadea who uses tactile sign language to communicate with her throughout the day. Her strong receptive skills allow her to distinguish weeds from flowers and clear the paths.

Selby Banks feels most at home when she is in the garden.

The year-round program has 30 to 40 volunteers and they are always looking for more. Green thumbs are not necessary.