Youth Serve by Documenting Graves with Billiongraves.com

Contributed By Valerie Johnson, Church News staff writer

  • 17 March 2015

Youth and leaders from the Lake Havasu City Arizona Stake enter Palo Verde Cemetery to begin a service project of photographing gravestones with smartphones on February 28.  Photo by Jessica Soto.

Article Highlights

  • About 100 youth and leaders documented as many graves as they could in the Palo Verde Cemetery in Blythe, California.
  • Using billiongraves.com they were able to record the information and connect it to names on FamilySearch.org.

“There is no greater happiness to be found than in serving others in our families, church, and community. ... We hope that message was felt by those who attended the conference and will be felt by those whom the youth serve.” —Jessica Soto, stake Young Women president 

BLYTHE, CALIFORNIA

Following the theme “Embark in the Service of God,” young men and young women from the Lake Havasu City Arizona Stake gathered in the Palo Verde Cemetery in Blythe, California, for a youth conference service project documenting graves on February 28. Around 100 youth and leaders took to the pathways of the cemetery with smartphones in hand, taking pictures of each grave.

“We started out by downloading the billiongraves.com app on our phone,” said Brooke Lundin of the Acoma Ward. “We would take pictures of the tombstones and make sure you could read the names on it.” Each youth took as many pictures of graves and tombstones as they could.

They then uploaded the pictures to billiongraves.com at a computer lab at Palo Verde College and filled out forms with the information found on the graves. “It was like doing indexing, but instead of documents, it was gravestones,” said Jared Dean of the Blythe Ward.

: Julie Zarkou, Cheyenne Steele, Leightyn Edwards, Eloy De Leon, and Megan Meister photograph gravestones at Palo Verde Cemetery on February 28. Photo by Jessica Soto.

Youth from the Lake Havasu City Arizona Stake upload images and record data on billiongraves.com at Palo Verde College on February 28. Photo by Jessica Soto.

“Once you submitted all the information to the website,” Brooke said, “it would connect to FamilySearch and it would come up with the name that it could possibly link to on FamilySearch.” The youth then connected the recently uploaded grave photo to a name on the FamilySearch website.

“It’s really useful,” Jared said of the documented graves. “Just last Sunday when I was doing some family history of my own, I was able to see a few [gravestones] of my own. … I was able to use them in order to find death dates and birth dates.”

“There is no greater happiness to be found than in serving others in our families, church, and community,” says Jessica Soto, the stake Young Women president. “These youth are being taught and encouraged to serve others in many different ways. We hope that message was felt by those who attended the conference and will be felt by those whom the youth serve.”