Lazarus Project prays for those buried without funeral services

'Pauper' program helps pay for burials

SAN ANTONIO -- What happens when a loved one dies? For most of us, we hold a funeral and bury them. In Bexar County, if you can't afford a burial, there's the Pauper Burial Program.

Adults are buried in simple caskets, three caskets to a grave, while children get their own plots. 

"She fought drugs for a lot of years and she was getting better," said Gretchel Marvel about her stepdaughter. "She slipped and went back into it and it killed her brain."

Marvel's stepdaughter was 39 when she died. Her family couldn't afford the burial, so the county took over. They offered a short viewing at the funeral home contracted to execute pauper burials. But like all of these burials, the county didn't offer a grave-side service. 

This past March, a nondenominational group decided that needed to change. 

"This is what maturity is about," said Arthur Dawes, who leads that group. "This is fullness of life. Does life get any better?"

The Lazuras Project meets one Saturday every month to pray for everyone buried through the Pauper Program. They place flowers at every grave and read out the names of people who've been buried since their last visit. 

Last year, the county provided just under 500 of these burials. 

"I think the Pauper Burial Program is a good program," said Eddie Ortega, director of the Bexar County Community Resources Department. "It gives a dignified service to folks that might not have one."

Marvel is grateful for that program, and she's grateful for the compassion of the Lazarus Project. 

"It's wonderful," she said. "People do care. No matter why you died, people do care."

(© 2016 KENS)


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