Saturday, December 28, 2013

Homeless People Are Not THROW AWAYS

While browsing through the news today, I came upon an article that gives credit to my point that just because someone is homeless DOES NOT MEAN that they do not have family that cares.  I wanted to share this article because it was touching and gives an example of the point I am trying to prove with the failure to find next-of-kin for the indigent buried at White Tanks Cemetery in Arizona.  The policies and procedures, the way that the homeless are considered throw-aways in Arizona is just not right or fair and it needs to be changed and reconsidered.

Many things happen in a person's life that can lead to living a life on the streets away from their family. Once so many years go by without speaking to family, many homeless assume that their family does not want to see them or they are just too embarrassed and ashamed to show their face; this does not mean that the family does not care about them or want to see them.

Please, please read this article and share it with as many people as you can!  Had this not happened to this man, God's intervention to reunite him with his family, he may have passed away and been buried the same as those at White Tanks and his family would have never found him.  Just as they said, it was assumed that he was dead because he just went "MIA" from a family that loved him.  We need to make more effort to reunite the homeless with their family... there needs to be an organized effort by some kind of mental health or non profit to reach out and bridge the gaps for these people.

Here's the article... I hope you enjoy it~  Please feel free to leave me any comments you may have both for or against. I enjoy hearing other perspectives that challenge my views, as it may spark a new perspective for me!|HomelessReunitedFam

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Requesting that Funeral Homes to Work With Us For Finding Next of Kin

The following is the letter that I sent out to 12 funeral homes requesting that they work with our organization giving us a list of the potential indigent people arriving in their facility, so that we can assist in finding next of kin (allowing for families to choose the fate of the deceased).

White Tanks Angels Foundation
Miranda Rhuda, Founder
415 Dewey Street
Sandusky, OH 44870

December 7, 2013

ATTN:  Funeral Home Management, Owner and Staff

Hello, my name is Miranda Rhuda.  I am writing this letter to you with the intention of introducing myself and my organization to you. It is my hope that we may be able to build a working relationship between us to better serve the indigents that end up buried at White Tanks Cemetery or other county cemeteries for indigents.

I started this organization in an effort to help close the gap in the system for finding next of kin for those who have none listed elsewhere.  A 15-year search for my mother ended in 2009 when I found out that she had passed in 2007 and was buried at White Tanks Cemetery.  I struggled to understand and work through the process of indigent burials.  I spoke with the public fiduciary and the funeral home that cared for her, but still found no reasonable explanation as to why I was not notified about her passing.  I was told that it is not the funeral home’s responsibility to find next of kin, but the Public Fiduciary’s job.  In my 15 year search for my mother, I had posted on over 1000 websites that I was searching for her; all of the postings included her full name, date of birth, middle initial, my name and where we were from, as well as where I thought she may be (Phoenix).  A simple google search would have turned up next of kin for her, but a search was never done.  The pain that I experienced in knowing that my mother had not only died alone, but was also buried and put to rest alone, buried by a chain gang was beyond explanation.  I truly struggled to understand the whole thing.  I posted on blog sites about my experience and before I knew it there were other families who poured out their hearts to me about their same experiences with their loved ones.  Once I realized that it was not an isolated case (with my mother) but that it was happening, quite frequently, for many individuals, I set out to try and make a change.  I have been contacted by more than 30 families who have discovered their loved ones buried at White Tanks, who have said they would have more than graciously accepted the responsibility of laying their loved ones to rest.

I have gone over the options for trying to remedy this situation in my mind many times since 2009.  The final conclusion that I felt would be the best and the fastest was for me to start an organization where I can try to close the loophole in the failure to search for next of kin.  I am offering to provide my own personal search services (acquired through 10 years of missing persons advocacy) free of charge to the funeral homes and/or fiduciary to find next of kin for those who have none listed.  Many of these indigents are homeless, addicts or mentally ill who have become estranged from their families by their own free will—not by the families doing.  If I fail to locate a loved one alive for a family, the least that I can do is to provide them with the opportunity to give proper goodbyes to their loved one at their time of death.

In addition to finding next of kin, our organization also offers free services to families who live in distant locations and cannot visit nor tend to their loved ones gravesite at White Tanks Cemetery.  We have several members who volunteer to go out a number of times per week to visit, place flowers and take pictures to send to the family- in an effort to offer some comfort and closure.

It is my hope that you will embrace our organization and choose to use us as an ally in offering families the same closure and comfort as those who are not indigent. For the quickest and most ideal search for next of kin, obviously, as much information as possible is desired.  Having a full name, date of birth and birth location is ideal for easier tracking of family members. However, we have many memberships for various people search sites including world membership to which provides extensive information in collective databases. I really hope to get as much cooperation from as many funeral homes as possible- in an effort at providing the closure needed to families in search of their loved ones.

Without communicating with the funeral homes, we have currently been researching the newspaper obituaries for listings that request more information on the deceased.  The problem with this method is that we are only working to inform families of their loved ones passing and burial.  We would like to get ahead of the burials, by receiving immediate notices from the funeral homes and work to find next of kin who can choose the method of burial for their loved ones, saving money for the tax payers of Maricopa County and healing families all over the country.

If you are contacted by a family, who lives out of state, requesting information on their loved ones plot at White Tanks, please feel free to refer them to our organization so that we may offer our free visitation services to them.  We also assist families in navigating through the confirmation of identity, death certificate and paperwork process for the deceased.

If you would like to speak more about this- the fastest and easiest reply method would be to e-mail me at  Please feel free to also write me via US Postal Mail or call me at 419-602-7147.  If I do not answer, please leave a message and I will get back to you ASAP.

God Bless you for your services,
Miranda N. Rhuda,  Founder
White Tanks Angels Foundation

Requesting Letters from the Families of the Deceased Buried at White Tanks Cemetery - Letter Campaign #1

White Tanks Families, I am getting ready to launch a letter writing campaign to raise awareness for the organization and all of the issues that you have each shared with me.

However, I need some help doing this folks! I am asking each of you to write a letter about your families experience and situation. The letter should include how you feel you have been ripped off, violated, etc... due to the current policies and procedures of indigent burial.  Dictate what you would like to see happen to fix the situation or what you feel would have been a satisfactory ending for you.  NOTE** Unless otherwise specified by you, THE LETTERS WILL BE LEFT ANONYMOUS without names. I will be taking the names out of all the letters as I know that familial problems are relations are sensitive in nature.

This is the most important letter campaign that our organization will do. We need to be heard! They need to be reminded that those bodies they are just putting in the ground in little wooden boxes- are REAL people with REAL family! We need to write, collect and send in as many letters as possible, flooding the mailboxes of the people who can assist in changing some of the issues at hand with White Tanks Cemetery.

The letter does not have to be extremely extensive (unless you feel like it). Longer letters with even more detailed feelings/thoughts are even better and will be graciously accepted. Length of the letter is not important! Your letter just needs to be heartfelt about your emotions (and the struggle that your family has endured) of having your loved one labeled “unclaimed” and buried at an indigent desert dump ground with no personal affects.

I want the letter recipients to feel the letters as they read them (and be able to picture themselves or their family in this situation). The letter does not need to be "proper" or grammatically correct, that’s not important! (Plus, I was an editing assist for a newspaper and do a lot of proofreading and editing anyhow.) I just want you to sit down and put your feelings on to paper to be read and then send them to me.  The best way to do this would be via E-mail to  but if you prefer to handwrite a letter and send it for me to copy, forward and distribute, you can also do that.  Letters should be sent to: White Tanks Angels Foundation, c/o  Miranda Rhuda, 415 Dewey Street, Sandusky, OH  44870.

I know that many of you, like me, feel ripped off because you were denied the ability to bury your loved one, have proper personal services to celebrate their life and say your final goodbyes. Please tell them that. Many of us have had a terrible time with tracking down and obtaining information about our loved one's death and burial process. That needs to be described to them! Please, whatever you and/or your family have experienced with all this-- jot it all down and send it to me. Some of you have shared your feelings with me in emails and messages back and forth; I will go ahead and copy your words into letters to use, sparing you some time that I know can be quite limited!

Some of the questions for you to answer in your letter are:
1.     What are you the most appalled about with the whole death/burial situation with your loved one?
2.     What is your perspective/view on having your loved one at White Tanks? Do you feel that they belong there?
3.     Do you feel that authorities should have been able to find you or other next of kin for your loved one? How easy do you think they could have obtained that information?
4.     What do you think about the practice of placing the blurb in the paper to request more information about the deceased?
5.     How did you learn that your loved one was buried at White Tanks?
6.     Have the officials/authorities/funeral home been helpful in assisting you with whatever you needed in relation to the deceased?

I will also be writing a letter about my experiences in great detail, as I am the founder of the foundation and it is the reason for the foundation’s existence. When I have completed the letter, I will post it for all of you to see. Maybe it will give you an idea of what I am trying to establish with this letter campaign.

The way that I feel and my reasoning for doing this is that THEY CAN NOT SOLVE A PROBLEM THEY DON’T KNOW EXISTS!  So, we have to stand up and tell them about all of the problems we have seen and experienced. If we want to spare other families from experiencing the same pain, lack of closure and frustration that we have-- then we need to be the VOICE that is heard and NOT forgotten. 

You HAVE TO BE A VOICE for your deceased loved one, as they cannot speak for themselves! Please try to put aside any and all angst or bitterness you may feel toward your deceased loved one… because the simple fact and point that we need to get across is:

1.     Everyone is someone's family, whether chosen to be estranged or not!

2.     Everyone deserves to have their life celebrated with a memorial service by loved ones who know them

3.     Everyone deserves to have the option of a personalized, honorable burial surrounded by loved ones and friends.

4.     Families deserve the opportunity to say goodbye and celebrate the deceased life.
5.     Families deserve the option of paying for and carrying out personalized funeral and memorial services for their loved one.

6.     Families should not have to pay an extra $2,500+ (that they can’t afford) to RE-DO their loved one’s burial process.  Also, people should not have to dig up their loved ones and disturb their final resting peace to re-establish the desire results for the family.

7.     Families should be given the opportunity to choose to have their loved one shipped home to them (especially if living in another state) so that they are given the opportunity to visit their deceased family member (just as those buried who are not considered indigent).

8.     For each family of the buried, they should be allowed to place a personalized stone/marker/ shrine to give honorable representation of who the deceased really was in their life. A father, mother, son, daughter, etc… should be recognized in death and honored, just as in life.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Letter to White Tanks Cemetery

White Tanks Angels Foundation
Miranda Rhuda, Founder & Primary Contact
415 Dewey St., Sandusky, OH  44870

December 10, 2013

To the Caretakers and Office Staff of White Tanks Cemetery:

Hello, my name is Miranda Rhuda.  I am writing this letter to you with the intention of introducing myself and my organization to you. It is my hope that we may be able to build a working relationship between us to better serve the indigents that end up buried at White Tanks Cemetery, as well as the families of those buried there.

After a long journey of searching for my mother, Joyce Patterson, for almost 15 years, I found her- buried at White Tanks Cemetery. My journey has shown me a lot and taught me a few things about the policies and procedures involving White Tanks Cemetery. After being completely appalled by the fact that there are no private markers allowed at the cemetery and the lack of a search to find next of kin for my mother, I became vocal about my journey by blogging my thoughts.  When I published my blog about White Tanks, other families came forward and confirmed that they had also gone through similar issues regarding their loved ones also buried at White Tanks Cemetery.  After I was contacted by the 20th family about their issues regarding the indigent burial process and cemetery of their loved one, I came to the conclusion that something needs to be done to remedy some of these issues and I decided to start my own foundation to help other families cope with the process of finding their loved one at White Tanks Cemetery.

My foundation, the White Tanks Angels Foundation, offers various free services to assist the families of the indigent buried at White Tanks. 
1.      Many of the families (for those buried there) live out of the state of Arizona.  For those families, we offer to have volunteers visit their loved ones grave sites regularly to tend to them and send pictures back home to the family.
2.      We help families gather information surrounding the death of their loved one by contacting the funeral home and public fiduciary to verify the identity of the deceased.
3.      For those who wish to have their loved ones remains moved from White Tanks, cremated or shipped to another state, we help them navigate through the legal processes of permits, etc…
4.      We are currently trying to work with the funeral homes and public fiduciary to get the names of the indigent before they are buried at White Tanks so that we can do a proper search for next of kin in hopes of finding family and giving them the option of other arrangements for their deceased loved one.
5.      Many of the individuals buried at White Tanks Cemetery have been estranged by their families on their own free will.  There are families out there that, like I was, are currently searching for and trying to locate their loved one, not knowing that they have already passed. It is our foundation’s goal to go through and try to find and notify as many families as possible to offer them the much needed closure they are seeking.

Many of the family members who have spoken to our foundation have shared with us how upsetting it is that they were unable to properly pay their respects and say their goodbyes to their loved ones. In addition to that, they are appalled that there are no private markers or shrines allowed to honor the life of their loved one.  We aim to try and see if we can get that changed, if need be.

I am requesting that you please send us a copy of the policies and procedures for White Tanks Cemetery. If you could give us that information it will really help our foundation to clearly and realistically set goals for the foundation services and issues needing attention.

Also, could you please let me know:
1.      Who is in charge of overseeing the landscaping, maintenance and appearance of the cemetery
2.      Who is in charge of implementing and overseeing the policies and procedures
3.      What are the names of the Cemetery Caretaker and/or Office Manager

The quickest and most efficient method of replying would be to send the information via email to the above listed email address. However, you may also send it via mail to the above listed address.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation!

Respectfully signed,

Miranda N. Rhuda 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Maricopa County, Phoenix, Arizona Funeral Home and Mortuary Resource Guide

Funeral Homes and Mortuary Services

1.     Preston Funeral Home
3800 S Central Ave
Phoenix, Arizona  85040-1016
Phone  (602) 304-0083
They have a beautiful religious website with Bible Verses, Jesus, Doves and Angels.

2.     Serenity Mortuary Service
2514 S. 6th Ave.
Phoenix AZ  85003

3.     Samaritan Funeral Home
1505 E. McDowell Rd.
Phoenix AZ  85006

4.     Harper Funeral Home 
1246 E. Jefferson St.
Phoenix AZ 85034
(602) 243-3961
They are one of the more common funeral homes that do the indigent burials and listings in the newspaper for information on next of kin. Their website reads: We are a full service funeral home offering cremation and burial services and shipping world wide, We are Family Owned and Operated and offer a good service at an affordable cost much lower than most” 
** This is the funeral home that assisted me with my Mother’s disinterment and cremation shipping. They have been very pleasant and more than helpful. I would recommend them to others! ** 

5.     Legacy Funeral Home
10702 W. Peoria Ave.
Sun City, AZ 85351
(480) 963-6200

6.     Abel Funeral Services
1627 N. 51st Ave.
Phoenix, AZ   85035
 This is one of the more common funeral homes that list for indigents in the newspapers

7.     La Paz Funeral Home
9 am to 5 pm Monday-Friday

935 E Indian School Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85014

1551 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85007

8.     Angels Cremation and Burial
422 W. McLellan Road (at Country Club Dr.)
Mesa, AZ 85210
(480) 962-6435
Their website reads: Sandy began her career in the mortuary business after losing two children, her parents, and many other close family and friends. Because of her experiences, she has empathy with those who are mourning. She is committed, sincere, compassionate, and understanding in her desire to serve the family, as well as taking care of your loved one. Her philosophy is everyone deserves to be taken care of with dignity, love, and kindness at passing. 

Where can I find help to deal with my Grief?
Contacting these groups is the sole responsibility of the individual and use is at the discretion of the patron. The list of these services are  provided as a service to you. Other organizations may also be available in your area (or State).
East Valley Bereavement 480 785-1515
Compassionate Friends 480 982-1885
Grief Support Group Adults 50+ 480 962-5612
Parents of Murdered Children 602 506-2488
Survivors of Suicide 480 784-1514
Widows Aide Society 480 225-1980
New Song 480 797-9970
Banner Hospitals
Hospice Homes

Government Offices Resource Guide

Government Offices and Organizations

1.     Social Security Administration

2.     Maricopa County Public Fiduciary
Security Center Building
222 North Central Avenue Suite 4100
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Hours: 8am to 5pm M-F except holidays
Phone: 602.506.5801 | Fax: 602.506.2495
After Hours: 602.506.5801 (Emergencies only) 


The website says the following about the indigent burial program: To initiate a referral, call (602) 506-5801. Be prepared to provide the following information: Name of Decedent, Address, Date of Birth, Date of Death, Social Security Number, and Marital Status; next of kin Full Name, Address, and Phone Number. Walk-ins cannot be accommodated.  A Burial Coordinator will be assigned and will contact the family as soon as possible. An application and determination interview is then scheduled. At the interview the family is required to provide proof of income, other additional financial resources, rent/mortgage receipt, and other documentation as directed by the caseworker. In most instances, a decision is rendered at the time of interview with the next of kin.

3.     The Arizona Fiduciaries Association
PO BOX 4130
Scottsdale, AZ  85261
602-840-2900  ext 307   Fax 480-922-5283
The Arizona Fiduciaries Association, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide structure, guidance, training and continuing education for public and private fiduciaries in Arizona. 
Our Vision:  The AFA will be a nationally recognized leader for developing the best standards of practice for professional fiduciaries. Mission:  To provide education and advocacy to its members to enhance and promote the fiduciary profession. 

Forensic Science Center
701 W. Jefferson St.
Phoenix AZ  85007
602-506-3322       Fax: 602-506-1546

The Med Examiner has an Unidentified Persons Bureau. This is a site that is specifically used for trying to get unidentified persons identified and the missing persons files matched to the identified.  This is an amazing effort for Missing Adults. Proud to spread the news about this program!

5.     Maricopa County Vital Statistics Office of Registration

Information about How to Obtain A Certified Copy of a Death Certificate

Direct Link to the Mail-In Application for a Maricopa County Death Certificate

Application for Requesting Changes on a Death Certificate

Brochure Explaning Eligibility of a Death Certificate Request

Applying For Death or Birth Certificates Online through VitalChek
VitalChek is a third party company authorized by Maricopa County and the State of Arizona to offer this online Application option. To obtain information and instructions for  ordering Arizona vital records, please review

Apply in person at any of the following offices:
Central Phoenix Office
3221 N 16th St Ste 100
Phoenix AZ 85016

West Valley Office
3003 W Thomas Rd Ste 200B
Phoenix AZ 85017

East Valley Office
4419 E Main St Ste 105
Mesa AZ 85205

 8:00am - 4:30pm
Ph: 602-506-6805

$20.00 - Certified Copy
$30.00 - Corrections

Forms of Payment:
• Visa or MasterCard
• Money Order
• Cashier’s Check
• Cash (in person ONLY)

How to Apply:
• In person
• By Mail
• Online (fees apply)

Changing Identity Information on File with Maricopa County Vital Statistics
               When you are requesting to change the identity of a loved one from an indigent status to an individual with a confirmed & validated identity, there is a form that the funeral homes will have you fill out called a VSIM Worksheet. This form asks all of the questions needed to provide as much information as possible about your loved ones identity to file with the state.  This worksheet is often required by the funeral home when doing a death certificate correction letter and amendment application.  Each funeral home has its own version or copy of the VSIM worksheet, but you can view an example of this form here:

6.     Self Service Center Maricopa County
The superior court of Arizona offers many forms and legal documents that are able to be downloaded, printed and filled out without an attorney.

7.     Arizona State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers

Rodolfo Thomas, Executive Director
Arizona State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers
1400 West Washington, Suite #230
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone: (602) 542-3095
Fax: (602) 542-3093

Patricia Keith, Programs and Project Specialist
Arizona State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers
1400 West Washington, Suite #230
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone:(602) 542-3095
Fax:(602) 542-3093