Congratulations to Sadie May, the Find a Grave® featured volunteer of the month for November 2021! We’d like to recognize your diligence in working through cemeteries to document and photograph each headstone. Sadie has been a member for over 18 years. She started as a Find a Grave volunteer when she was 17 years old.
In her teens while browsing online, she happened upon her grandmother’s Find a Grave memorial. She joined, adding more photos and leaving virtual flowers for her. Visiting her grandmother’s memorial helped Sadie through her grief and realizing how the memorial had helped her, she had a thought:
“A lightbulb went off in my head, I wanted to help people find their loved ones and bring the comfort of seeing their final resting place to them, via the internet. I photographed almost 90% percent of my hometown’s cemetery and moved on to Riverside National Cemetery, which is dear to my heart. In 2016, I decided I wanted to photograph every single stone in the mausoleum at Bellevue Memorial Park in Ontario, California. I visited every week, and it took me 6 months and resulted in about 50,000 photos alone! My son who is 11 now has been running right along with me in cemeteries since he was a toddler, taking photos of stones and reading the names and dates out loud to me as we go along. We both love to explore and find new cemeteries when we travel. All the volunteer photographs I have taken come from cemeteries in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona. I hope to one day add more Southern states to the list!
Sadie enjoys spending time in cemeteries and when she photographs she tries to capture the feeling she finds in the cemetery, whether honoring Veteran’s graves, spending time in the peaceful mausoleums, or waiting for the light to spill through the trees and be just right, as seen here.
There’s one experience that Sadie will never forget. It’s experiences like this that has made graving worthwhile to her. “I was photographing in Riverside National Cemetery. A woman came up to me and asked me if I knew where the office was. Unfortunately the office was closed, but I told her I could find the plot information online. She told me she had flown in from out of state and hadn’t seen her parent’s resting place in 20 years. I pulled out my phone, found the exact plot numbers for her parents and helped her find where they were laid to rest. She was in tears and asked me if she could hug me. I said of course, and she gave me a great big hug! That day definitely helped to remind me why I truly love volunteering for Find a Grave along with the many lovely “Thank you” notes I have gotten in my email in the last 18 years.
When I am not photographing graves or statues in the cemetery, I like to travel, nature photography and write fiction, one day I hope to get published! Fingers crossed! Recently, volunteering for me has slowed down as life happened, but I try to contribute headstone photographs at least monthly and I hope to do this for as long as I can!“
Our accolades to you for your extraordinary work on the site, in cemeteries, and for the community! We are so glad that you are a Find a Grave member and appreciate all your efforts in recording and memorializing those that have passed.
We welcome your suggestions for Volunteer of the Month. If you’d like to submit a volunteer for consideration in future months, please send an email with details of their work to firstname.lastname@example.org.