Family garden tender

Natalia Jimenez maintains the garden near the Journalism building in honor of her mother Marecelina Ortiz who started it.

Natalia Jimenez loves flowers. And she loves her mother.

The 52-year old senior custodian, who will celebrate 30 years at Orange Coast College at the end of the year, tends the gardens near the Journalism building, Global Engagement Center, Garrison Honors Center and the Faculty House.

She does it because she loves flowers. And she loves her mother.

The garden near the Journalism building was originally tended by her mother Marecelina Ortiz, who after retiring from OCC left Jimenez in charge of it.

“Flowers and plants give me energy — that is why I make sure the gardens on campus are always in great shape,” Jimenez said.

In recognition of her work, Jimenez was awarded the “Hanging of the Orange” award last year for her extraordinary acts of service to the OCC community in bringing beauty to the campus through her planting of flowers and gardening.

OCC is a family affair for the Jimenez family. In addition to her mother’s work on campus, her stepfather Benito Gomez was a utility worker for OCC’s Maintenance and Operations crew. He died about three years ago and the tree near the Journalism building was planted in his honor.

In addition to working on campus Jimenez is also an OCC alumna.

Even though Jimenez’ mother planted flowers on campus, Jimenez said she didn’t learn to love plants until she bought her first house in 1988. There she discovered her love for plants when she grew flowers, avocados, banana trees and much more.

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