Since moving to Valley Stream in 1965, Dorothy Walz hasn’t spent much time sitting still. In the past 48 years, she has volunteered with one organization after another, making the lives of her neighbors a little bit better.
Because of her dedication to the community, as a PTA leader, as the president of the Garden Club and as a member of the Civilian Patrol, the Herald has named her its 2013 Person of the Year.
“Valley Stream is very close to my heart,” said Walz, 78. “It’s my community. Anyone living here should try to do something for their community.”
Known to most people as Dottie, Walz began volunteering in the late 1960s, when her oldest son entered Clear Stream Avenue School. She served as PTA president there for two years, then as the Central/Memorial PTSA president for another two. Later she led the Valley Stream Council of PTAs, a collaboration of units from all the community’s public schools, for two separate two-year stints.
Years back, District 30 had a Learning Disability Resource Center at Clear Stream, and Walz volunteered as an aide, working with children as young as kindergartners who had special needs. Her advocacy for children with learning disabilities led her and Lois Barry to create Valley Stream’s Special Education Parent Teacher Association.
Walz recalled traveling to Albany in the early 1970s with three busloads of people to lobby for more aid for education. She has also fought toll increases on the Southern State Parkway, which once featured a toll plaza in North Valley Stream; pushed for traffic lights by locals schools; and run the Lights on for Education showcase, which continues today, as a leader with the PTA Council.
Looking over the community
Her recent service includes 14 years as a member of the Valley Stream Civilian Patrol, a neighborhood watch organization in which members patrol the village as well as North and South Valley Stream in their own vehicles. For a decade, her territory included the neighborhood between Sunrise Highway and Merrick Road, west of Central Avenue. For the past four years she has served as the “base,” communicating with other members who are out on the road.