Next week, Bernalillo County – with the help of several really thoughtful people – will demonstrate its compassionate side as it takes care of its final duty for some of its citizens.
At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the county, in conjunction with Riverside Funeral Home will conduct a memorial burial service at Evangelico Cemetery in an effort to provide a dignified conclusion to the lives of about 100 unclaimed and indigent county residents who died here two or more years ago.
New Mexico statutes place the burden on counties for the final disposition of residents who died and whose remains were unclaimed by family members or who lacked the means to pay for their own burials. Bernalillo County has given the duty to its Procurement and Business Services Department. And the department has assigned the job to Rachael Maestas – who sounds like a very good person to have that duty.
Maestas says, “The fact that we can provide a dignified service to the members of Bernalillo County, it’s gratifying knowing that I can help others, but we don’t do it for the thank you at the end of the day. It’s each individual that comes through; it’s that one person, you have to make sure that one person is taken care of. I’m not just processing paperwork.”
The names of those to be buried Wednesday can be found on the county’s website – bernco.gov/unclaimed-indigent-cremation-program – but if you think one of your relatives or friends might be on the list and you’d like to try claiming the cremains before they are buried in a mass grave, you’d better act fast. You have until Tuesday to make arrangements to claim them.