By Micah Smith/ WJHL
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (Oct. 13, 2016) -- Nearly 600 people are homeless in the Tri-Cities region. When those who are homeless and without families pass away, local funeral homes say their remains often go unclaimed.
News Channel 11 found out two local churches are coming together honor members of the community who have passed away, without loved ones to claim their remains.
Shades of Grace United Methodist Church and Immanuel Lutheran Church will dedicate part of Immanuel Lutheran’s Cemetery to bury the remains of those who died homeless or alone.
The pastors of both churches told News Channel 11 they hope this gesture will give them the dignity in death that many did not experience while they were alive.
“(We) started doing services for some of our own members and so far we have done about 27 services,” said Shades of Grace Pastor Will Shewey.
Shewey said for the last two years, local funeral homes from around the Tri-Cities have asked him to pick up urns.
“They were someone’s mother, someone’s father or child, or someone’s brother or sister. It’s just really sad that at this point in their life, when life ended, there was no one to come forward for them,” said Pastor Shewey.