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No One Buried Alone initiative honors strangers with a proper funeral

Posted at 5:28 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-23 04:14:17-05

It’s called the '”No One Buried Alone” ceremony.

Every year, up to 200 people, just in Palm Beach County, die with no one claiming the bodies no one giving them a proper funeral.

Father Gabriel Ghanoum leads the service at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery in Royal Palm Beach. “I wish I could have known them to be able to give them the hand and say, 'You are loved and be the light.' "

Each person’s remains are cremated before they arrive at the cemetery. They are then placed as a group in a mausoleum.

Susan Evans is part of Father Ghanonum’s congregation and hasn't missed a 'No One Buried Alone' ceremony in three years.

"You just can't help but wonder about these people's story," said Evans. "I believe it the dignity of, we're all in this together and if I could just here and let them know people are praying."

To get to the cemetery, someone collects the unclaimed remains in Palm Beach County.

Adriana Gorrondona is a Palm Beach County human services case manager specializing in this project. She says the county spent $166,000 collecting and cremating remains, in 2016

Gorrondana is part of county staff that goes to medical examiner offices, hospitals, and even tracks the homeless passing away to collect unclaimed remains.

 Gorrondana said this about the 'No One Buried Alone' service: “I think we're here to acknowledge that they passed away and acknowledge their lives." 

There is a section of Our Lady Queen of Peace cemetery in which 46 infants are laid to rest. That’s how many infants were in a 'No One Buried Alone' ceremony in the past.