NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In a city of more than 8.5 million people, one New Yorker is trying to give a voice to the voiceless.
He is documenting elderly people as they walk the streets and explaining to the world why exactly they “get out.”
It could be his friendly handshake, or welcoming voice. No matter, Herb Bardavid has the skills to turn a complete stranger immediately into a friend.
“I get a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure out of meeting people,” Bardavid told CBS2’s John Dias on Thursday.
When he’s not working as a social worker two days a week, the 74-year-old spends the rest of his time exploring Manhattan’s Upper West Side as a photographer. He takes pictures of elderly people and tells their tales through short stories on his blog “Getting Old and Getting Out In New York City.”
“I look at people and I know that everyone has a story and I want to hear their story and I want to give a voice to them,” Bardavid said.
Many of the people he speaks with live alone. They tell him why they live in New York City and the importance of getting out, rather than staying cooped up lonely indoors.
“They want to talk to me and sometimes they don’t want to stop talking,” Bardavid said.
Bardavid has photographed and written about dozens of senior citizens, including people who survived Nazi concentration camps, a doctor who helped discover the hepatitis C virus and a former movie actress.
On Thursday, he met 94-year-old “Carl,” who gets out every day.
“Walking is the secret to good health. I don’t care if its two miles or one mile a day,” Carl said.
Bardavid said elderly people tend to be invisible in the city, and New Yorkers should pay closer attention to them.
“Rather than feeling, ‘Oh, this guy with the walker is slowing us and I really think he should get out of the way,’ I hope they have some compassion that sooner or later they’re going to be in that position too. So am I,” Bardavid said.
But until then, his position is behind the camera, supporting every person he can.
Bardavid started the blog two years ago. For more information on it, please click here.