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Volunteer with a green thumb rewarded

DeKALB – In 2008, Randy Moseley’s mother, Onnie, moved into the Alzheimer’s wing of the DeKalb County Rehab & Nursing Center.

Moseley described each visit with his mother as being very trying.

“In a way, when you’re sitting and visiting, it can be very difficult to see what the disease has done to her,” he said.

Moseley noticed something about the facility while he was there, too: The garden was poorly maintained. A retired 3M distribution manager, Moseley said he always enjoyed gardening, and he did not feel like sitting around watching TV every day. So he began working on it.

Through Moseley’s efforts, the beauty of the garden grew and residents and their visitors now enjoy it immensely, said Deb Greiner, director of the DeKalb County Rehab & Nursing Center’s Alzheimer’s services.

“It’s a special place for everyone to go to,” Greiner said. “It’s simply beautiful.”

The garden also was a project of the Illinois Masters Gardeners program at the University of Illinois Extension. When members of the program eventually saw the work Moseley did, they invited him to join the program. Moseley agreed and became the project leader.

For his work, Moseley was named volunteer of the year by the Illinois Activity Professionals Association – which represents people who work in nursing homes, retirement centers, adult day care services, and mental health facilities across the state.

Moseley said he was honored and humbled to be nominated for the award, which Greiner said was kept a secret from him until he received it.

But not every week is a good week for gardening. During the colder months, Moseley uses his passion for woodworking to make custom furniture for the center to use in a raffle that funds their numerous activities, such as family parties and outings.

“Without our fundraiser, we weren’t able to do [those activities] on a regular basis,” Greiner said of raffling off Moseley’s custom-built furniture.

In the past, Moseley has built furniture such as pie safes and custom chests of drawers.

Although Moseley’s mother passed away in 2011, he still works in the nursing center’s garden several days each week.

“They deserve to have a nice garden to relax in and enjoy their golden years,” Moseley said.

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