A Grave yard
William Murphy/Flickr

Samaritan Ministry offers housing and employment search guidance, job assistance and referrals to other service providers, but the most unusual service they offer is probably the Burial Assistance program.

The Burial Assistance program has a very specific, targeted client profile for the deceased, who must meet the following requirements: a low-income individual who had less than $800 in liquid assets, resided in the District and tested positive for HIV/AIDS.

If the deceased meets these qualifications, Samaritan Ministry will work directly with the family’s chosen funeral home to provide the proper funding. Following the funeral, the ministry will refund a portion of the cost directly to the funeral home.

The service began in 2000 and was funded by a Ryan White grant, named after a young man who passed away due to HIV/AIDS transmitted through contaminated blood treatment.

Now funded by the D.C. Department of Health, the coordinators of the burial assistance program wish to continue their work with those in need. Last year, 49 families were assisted in funeral homes throughout the District. And as of early March 2013, Samaritan Ministry aided 15 families this year.

Adrian Vaughn, lead caseworker and burial assistance coordinator, said the staff at Samaritan Ministry strives to help clients beyond mere funding assistance.

“We are the arms, so to speak,” she said. “I’ve seen people cry and consoled them … I meet many people who haven’t been hit by the grieving process yet.”

Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington has offices in Northwest DC (202.722.2280), Southeast DC (202.889.7702), and Northern Virginia (703.271.0938).