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Best Practices/Personal Touch
First Place & Grand Prize Winner
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Regina Nassif, Director of Sales & Marketing
Cedar Memorial revamped its approach to providing "service after the service" and developed an AfterCare program to improve contact with families. In creating the program, Cedar Memorial addressed overlaps and gaps with regard to services being provided by other community groups such as churches and support groups. It also surveyed families to learn what types of services they desired and what expectations they had regarding timing after the service. As a result of its research, Cedar Memorial hired a retired family services counselor to administer its AfterCare program. She provides exceptional hands-on service to address families' needs, requests and complaints, and she delivers an AfterCare basket two weeks after each service has been performed. The basket contains reading materials on grief and loss as well as assorted food items and gift cards.
Most Personalized Service or Memorial
Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Services
Michael Schoedinger, President
Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Service in Columbus, Ohio, helped to facilitate the funeral for Harold Runnion at the Ohio Theatre—the first for the theater—due to Runnion's life-long dedication to the theater after four decades of service. The theater’s historic 1928 organ was brought to life to play show tunes and a video tribute was shown in the theater lobby featuring Runnion's many contributions to the restoration of the facility. Toward the end of the ceremony, Runnion's name appeared in lights on the Ohio Theatre's marquee, simply stating, "Celebrating Harold Runnion."
Honorable Mention 1
Olinger Chapel Hill Mortuary and Cemetery
Shannon Maestas, Location Manager
Olinger Chapel Hill in Littleton, Colorado, personalized a moving memorial service for self-proclaimed cowboy, 20-year-old Luke Tiger, who died in a tragic accident at work. Olinger Chapel worked closely with Tiger's family to personalize the service, creating a "cowboy" environment with upbeat cowboy/Western songs that were Tiger's favorites. A video tribute and Tiger's personal cowboy items were used to create a loving display along with flowers, photos and childhood belongings.
Honorable Mention 2
Darroch Memorial Chapel
Robert E. Barret, Funeral Director
Darroch Memorial Chapel created a highly personalized atmosphere to emulate as best as possible the deceased mother's home in Pacentro, Italy. The funeral home paid attention to every detail to recreate the home's ambiance, using photos to build a look-a-like room model. Funeral attendees commented on how touching this was, claiming the reproduction looked just like the woman's home in Italy and that they felt as if they were in her home vs. a funeral home.
Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers
Bruce W. Buchanan, Co-owner
Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers of Indianapolis, Indiana, collaborated with Family Service Advisor Bert Pettygrove to create a welcome home reception for Indiana National Guardsmen returning home from duty in Bosnia. The Buchanan organization planned to create a memorial not only to honor fallen heroes but also to recognize the sacrifices these citizen-soldiers and their families make. This memorial is unusual as memorials of this stature tend to be reserved for the main military branches of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. After five years of planning and fundraising, the Hoosier Patriot Memorial was dedicated November 8, 2007.
Honorable Mention 1
James D. Price, COO
Keystone Group's 217 funeral homes and cemeteries held events to encourage individuals to support our troops with "A Little Piece of Home." Individuals stopped by one of any 217 locations and dropped off needed/recommended items for American soldiers in Iraq. Once collections boxes were full, Keystone arranged for shipment of over 15,000 boxes to make certain troops received their own "little pieces of home." This community service program benefited U.S. troops and cast Keystone funeral homes in a positive light in the communities they serve.
Honorable Mention 2
Sunset Memorial Park
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paul F. Layer, Jr., VP of Development
Sunset Memorial Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, created a centennial urn garden—the first of its kind in New Mexico—to celebrate 100 years of community service. The garden took over two years to plan and showcases a Southwestern theme environmentally designed for more than 1,500 urn placements in a variety of settings.
Innovative Personalized Product
First Place Winner
A Touch From Beyond
Toni Noel, Owner
A Touch from Beyond offers a variety of cards used in pre-arrangement planning. The cards allow the pre-planner to provide personalized expressions of love, joy and gratitude one final time after passing to help comfort and heal the family, friends and others left behind. The branding of the back of the cards can be individually customized by hospices, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, senior centers and funeral homes, making them powerful sources of referrals to the company.
As a wholesale company, Oregon Memorials rarely works with grieving families. However, on this specific occasion, the firm extended its personal services to the bereaved parents of young Kain Phomphakdy to personalize a memorial for the deceased child. Working closely with the parents and internationally acclaimed artist Hibiki Miyazaki, Oregon Memorials produced a teardrop-shaped memorial with a custom illustration memorializing Phomphakdy with all the toys and things he held dear, including racing cars, a tiger and a dragon. The lettering on the back - a compilation of notes from the boy's classmates - required extra detail touches.