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First Person: Labor of love

Kristin Sabo tends to Amir's Garden, a 5-acre hidden treasure tucked away on a small hilltop in Los Angeles' Griffith Park. It serves as a rest stop for hikers and horseback riders; you get there by trekking up a winding fire road or climbing a steep set of 220 stairs.

The garden was started by Amir Dialameh in 1971. He decided to create it after seeing the spot destroyed by a wildfire. Over the course of 30 years Dialameh trucked up the hillside with a pick and shovel and turned the barren hilltop into a lush, shady area. He planted all kinds of non-native plants: jacaranda and pine trees, rose bushes, geraniums, oleander and yucca. It was a volunteer effort of epic proportions.

After Dialameh passed away in 2003, Sabo, his longtime friend, took over the job.

"I spend 12 hours a day up here," she says, adding that she's in the garden whenever she has spare time (including vacations) maintaining the space for the thousands of park visitors who stop there every year. 

"There's water here and a horse trough," says Sabo, "so people come and rest while they're hiking in the park, and then go on to their destination."

Sabo considers what she's doing "old-style community service: dedication and seeing a need and fulfilling it without somebody pointing it our or telling you that it needed to be done, or setting it up for you."

"If you see a need, go take care of it," she says. 

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