AmeriCorps joins cemetery cleanup effort

IMPERIAL, Calif. – Cleaning efforts going on at the Memory Gardens Cemetery got much needed help on Saturday from a small army of young volunteers.

They belong to the Imperial Valley chapter of AmeriCorps. An old faded photograph shows what Memory Gardens Cemetery used to look like at one time.

Imperial Valley AmeriCorps member John Cabrera would like to see it that way again.

“We see that this was an abandoned cemetery for the most part,” Cabrera said.

The work being done is more than just cleaning an old cemetery.

“We’re here to support the memory of the veterans and we’re here to support volunteerism,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera is there to pay respect to the 76 veterans who rest there.

“Somebody who’s sacrificed, who’s given of their life, their time and their effort for their country,” Cabrera explained.

Rosalia Hernandez is one of 15 AmeriCorps members who came to help.

“To make it look more green,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez says she’s there for the veterans, too.

“Hero because they were part of the change of the United States. They brought us the freedom,” Hernandez said.

The cemetery sits along Highway 86 between the city of Imperial and Brawley.
Robert Fuentes, Jr., said they responded to the call from local veterans who are working to give dignity to the cemetery.
“We got the call, and we’re like, yeah, we’re up for the challenge,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes said they feel motivated because of their respect for veterans.
“I brought some of my members, and we’re like – we’re gonna clean it up,” Fuentes said.

The cleanup effort that began several weeks ago continues. But they need more help, Fuentes said.
“If we could get more people down here to help us that would be great,” Fuentes said.

They meet every Saturday from six to ten in the morning. And it may be the hottest time of the year, but, to these volunteers, duty comes first.

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