No. of Recommendations: 7
It's not a pleasant subject to contemplate. For the last 6 years, however, one KY woman has been doing much more than idly thinking about the subject:

Kate Hopkins didn't know the man in the casket, never met him or his family. Yet, Hopkins stood watch over 48 y.o. Francisco Carmona's funeral on a gray, cold day at a county-owned cemetery in Louisville. Hopkins joined a group of high school students, a few county employees, and a deputy coroner on Feb. 6 to ensure that Carmona, who died in January in a Louisville hospital with no family or friends, had a servic. It was the 91st service for the poor in Louisville since Nov. 1. "We don't come into the world alone. We shouldn't leave it alone," Hopkins said.

It's a very thought-provoking article, explaining the various methods of disposition of remains of the indigent/unclaimed, the legalities involved, and the efforts made by localities to solicit family or friends, even posting newspaper ads paid for out of their own shrinking public burial expense funds. It's a case of cold numbers. In Louisville's Jefferson County, for example, the annual number of pauper burials has nearly quintupled from 65 in 2005 to 300 in 2012. Almost needless to say, it's also the result of a contraction of the economy: in many instances, money just isn't there.

For Mr. Carmona, a group of volunteer students from Trinity High School served as pallbearers and eulogizers. Their principal, Daniel Zoeller, told the students "there's a story behind every one of those graves," even if the students would never know what those stories were.

I like the kids' involvement for several reasons. It's a lesson in the fragility of life and coming face to face with death. Most importantly, though, it's a noble form of community service--not one imposed by a judge as punishment for getting busted at an underage drinking party.
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