Texas teens help beautify inner cities with roses

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POSTED: Saturday, June 16, 2012 - 7:00am

UPDATED: Saturday, June 16, 2012 - 7:04am

New York City is recognizing two Rockwall, Texas brothers who raise roses for historical sites, parks and community gardens.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer will honor Jacob and Matthew Graff with proclamation on Saturday.

The Graff family grows hundreds of roses and ship them to Harlem.

"What could be greater than a rose?" said Jon Graff, the teenagers' father, who has been a rose enthusiast for decades. "It's the essence of humanity, from Shakespeare to today."

The roses are used to rejuvenate and revive historical sites, parks and community gardens.

"We're very interested as a family in social commitment and service," Graff said. "It's a historically under served area in New York with a beautiful history."

"It's just about helping people out, it's not a question of distance," said Jacob Graff, 17.

His brother, Matthew Graff, 15, developed a special misting system that gives water to the rose cuttings.

He tends to the plants until they bloom.

"I'm proud to make a difference in other people's lives, give back to the community," he said.

Jacob Graff works with the city of New York to build mobile Web pages that give information about the sites and is working on a smartphone app.

"I didn't get into it to get recognized," he said. "I just really like programming, and it was good way to help."

"It's the personal satisfaction of doing what's right is always the best," his father said.

The family will also be flying to France to judge one of the world's most prestigious rose competitions in Bagatelle.

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