Volunteers work to rehabilitate Coalinga cemetery

COALINGA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Gina Lopez is on a mission, over the past few weeks she has worked long hours, with little help to rehabilitate Pleasant Valley Cemetery.

"After riding the tractor, I will go home covered in dust and everything, but it is just so gratifying knowing that it is coming to a realization," said Lopez.

She is not getting paid for her work or doing it for praise, but because for her, it is the right thing to do.

"Going to different cemeteries and looking at how their loved ones are laid to rest and then coming back and seeing this, I knew it was something I had to devote my time to," said Lopez.

Pleasant Valley Cemetery is the only cemetery near the towns of Coalinga, Huron, and Avenal.

Alexis Ayala, whose daughter is buried at Pleasant Valley said she recalls a time before everything was covered in dust and the grass died.

"It was beautiful, it was green, it was really well taken care of," said Ayala.

That all changed when the drought hit. The cemetery's well failed and less money became available for upkeep.

"It is really sad, a lot of people come out here and the environment is really poor," said Ayala.

Lopez is working hard to change that. She along with organization Friends of Pleasant Valley Cemetery secured donations and even got Chevron involved. She still working on enlisting volunteers, so far she has one.

"It will be grass, nice grass, well maintained and it is going to be a cemetery," said volunteer Mike Zwicky.

The goal is to add a steel rod fence and have green grass throughout the cemeteries 4.8 acres by may of 2018.

"My Christmas will be after the first of January, when we get that involvement, that check form chevron," said Lopez.
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