San Francisco company honors fallen COVID-19 frontline heroes with a free, environmentally friendly final resting place

As the U.S. celebrates National EMS Week, many companies across the country have created initiatives to honor emergency medical workers and other COVID-19 frontline heroes. This California startup, which created America’s first conservation memorial forest, is offering a free final resting place for the essential frontline workers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the battle against the coronavirus.

Video Transcript


SANDY GIBSON: Better Place Forests is a sustainable alternative to cemeteries where instead of a grave and a tombstone in a cemetery, a family's final resting place is underneath a private family tree inside a permanently protected conservation area. We've launched the Memorial Trees for Heroes campaign as a way of trying to give back to these frontline workers who are risking their lives while people like me stay safe at home. We've reserved more than a million of trees and ceremonies for families, so we want to help as many families as possible.

And we know that 20% of all of the people who are infected by COVID today in the United States are frontline workers, people who are working in hospitals as nurses, or doctors, or first responders, or caregivers in nursing homes, and firefighters, and police. All these people who are out there working risking their lives right now, and we want to know that if they lose their lives, that we can give their families something that can comfort them.

They estimate that there's more than a million acres of symmetries in North America, and our vision is to create a business model that can help turn that need for a final resting place into a way of buying and protecting these incredibly beautiful places. Our forest is in Mendocino, California, but this is available for everyone across the country who wants to know that their final resting place can be in one of these beautiful forests overlooking the ocean. We're working as hard as possible to expand Better Place Forests across the country so that families can choose something closer to home if they lose one of their frontline heros.


How it works is that after a family has created the person they love, they'll come to the forest, they'll prepare the ashes with the family, and then walk to the tree for that final ceremony where we'll do a more traditional graveside service, where we can do different readings and prayers depending on what the family wants. Our lives are more than just the moments between when we're born when we die. There's a story that is our life, and I think the end of that story is very important, because it's one of the memories that your family will never forget. And so I think it's really fitting that the story of these frontline heroes-- while they died protecting us-- they get to spend forever protecting a beautiful forest.