BUFFALO, N.Y. — As we hike through our journey of life, we often find people that inspire us. In the environmental community, there are many who epitomize altruism and accomplish so much just because it's the right thing to do. West Side Septuagenarian Stephanie Berghash is one of those examples.
Part of the reason she first came to Buffalo in the sixties is the same reason many have fled, and another is our wealth of trees.
"Because I love snow. And when I got here, the Elms were 100,000 plus. It looked just like the children's books I Read, and that's why I stayed."
Though her beloved Elms are now gone, destroyed by Dutch Elm Disease, her love for trees still thrives. One of her first tasks was to help the City Forester at the time to replant trees on her new street.
"He and I worked together, and we put almost 70 trees on St. James Place, and if you go down and hear the story, you'll say "How did these big trees get to be that story? But, they did."
She has continued spending a lifetime helping plant trees across the city. These days she's a volunteer for RE-Tree WNY, the brainchild of Founder Paul Maurer, himself an inspiration.
Re-Tree sprang from the disastrous October Surprise Storm of 2006, which damaged thousands of trees. Maurer and scores of volunteers have since replanted over 30,00 trees.
Stephanie was helping right from the beginning.
"I got trees from him, so I had to get a truck to pick them up and then it went out in the snow, and people always come out and say "Those trees are not gonna live, they're gonna die ", and things, and you just keep going on through it, and you know, you get thanked for them, too, but you just keep planting them."
The tireless tree planter is an example also that age should not be a deterrent to doing what needs to be done. "It hooks you back into the newness of everything and it's a great youthful thing."
Planting a tree seems a simple act, but from that grows both a legacy and hope for the future. "You plant one tree, and you're connected to the un-deforesting of the world." She says. "You are connected into the future as being an environmentalist. It's such a great actor, that you can just do one thing."
To learn more about Re-Tree WNY or volunteer, click here.