BEST PRACTICE/PERSONAL TOUCH WINNERS
Striffler-Hamby Mortuary: “Cremated Remains with a Personal Touch” • Columbus, Georgia
Striffler-Hamby Mortuary realizes it is a very emotional moment for the family to receive their loved one’s remains. They added an extra touch to each service by placing the urn on a table with a sheer white scarf, a silk long-stem red rose, and a white candle. For one particular service for an active-duty soldier, they added a red, white, and blue arrangement with American flags as part of the display. At the end of each service, the family receives a red rose as a keepsake.
Legacy Touch: “The Legacy Touch Advantage” • Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Clock Funeral Home: Infant Loss Program • Muskegon, Michigan
The North Ottawa Community Hospital partnered with the Clock Funeral Home to make an infant loss program that had a formal protocol to help couples/families with sudden loss of their infants. Clock Funeral Home created a program that included having a female arranger/director with the family, making arrangements at the family’s home instead of the funeral home as well as providing a script for the hospital staff’s training on how to counsel the family.
Rose Hill Cemetery of Hagerstown Maryland: Cremation Memorial • Hagerstown, Maryland
Rose Hill Cemetery noticed a problem during some of their cremation burials. Many people chose to display their loved ones in the complimentary container, but were displeased with the way the container looked. Some people requested the plastic urn to be removed from the ceremony table. Since the cremains were being buried, purchasing a more decorative urn was not a reasonable option. Rose Hill responded to this by creating a memorial urn cover made of cherry wood that is offered at no cost to the families. The urn cover comes with a glass votive that can be personalized for the family to keep, as well as additional votives available for purchase. Since offering this option, every family has used the urn cover and has been delighted with the results.
Cook Funeral and Cremation Services (Cook Family Services): A Holiday Remembrance • Grandville, Michigan
The Cook Funeral Home family and staff understand how difficult the holidays can be after losing a loved one. During the holidays, they provide complimentary keepsake ornaments for families who have lost someone over the course of the year. An invitation is send out inviting families in. When the families go to pick up their ornament, Cook Funeral Home offers cookies and coffee along with love and attention as the families choose their ornament.
First Place and Grand Prize Winner
Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens: Fallen Hero Burial Arrangements • Timonium, MD
In Maryland, when any member of the public safety community dies in the line of duty, they are offered complete cemetery arrangements, including a space, vault, interment service fee and a bronze memorial in the Fallen Heroes section of the memorial gardens. 330 spaces are set aside for the burial of firefighters, rescue personnel, paramedics, police and correctional officers who lose their lives in the line of duty. The burial is given at no charge for the fallen hero and their spouse.
Rolling Oaks Memorial Center: The Christmas Box Book • Coppell, TX
In the past five years, Rolling Oaks Cemetery has buried 54 children. A child was defined as being under the age of 25 years old by Naomi Bradbury-Marchand, manager of Rolling Oaks Cemetery. Recognizing that this was a group of individuals that needed more care and attention, Bradbury-Marchand instructed staff to give a child’s family a gift bag with the book The Christmas Box. Bradbury-Marchand along with the city of Coppell and the parents of a child who had recently passed worked together to in designing and building a garden for reflection that lists children’s names in remembrance. There is a candlelight vigil held at the base of the statue each year and LED candles with white roses placed at each child’s grave throughout the cemetery. Staff of Rolling Oaks sends an ornament and card to families of children that have passed to let them know that their child is remembered. Rolling Oaks recognizes parents need to grieve and tell their stories, so they offer 3 times a year for parents to recognize their children and share stories and experiences.
Cook Funeral and Cremation Services: Community Picnic Honoring Veterans • Grandville, MI
The Cook family, of Cook Funeral and Cremation Services, believe it’s very important to honor our veterans. Each year, a community picnic is held, which serves nearly 500 veterans and their spouses. On Veteran’s day veterans receive free breakfast within the community. Cook Funeral and Cremation Services also offer veterans and their spouse’s special “farewell” packages as well. There is one dedicated staff member that works with veterans to ensure proper paperwork is filed with the government, and at no charge. These events and offerings allow Cook the opportunity to honor those who deserve it.
French Funerals & Cremations/Sunset Memorial Park: University of New Mexico Funeral Packages & Lobo Pavilion • Albuquerque, NM
French Funerals & Cremations has partnered exclusively with the University of New Mexico and built a special pavilion specifically dedicated to and themed around UNM Lobos. The pavilion uses specific UNM colors and has rights to use every UNM logo, if the family chooses. Central to the pavilion is a custom bronze statue of the school’s mascot and niches can be purchased surrounding this statue that come with a miniature replica. They have also designed several Lobo themed funeral packages that allow the family to incorporate UNM Lobo themed items into the funeral itself; items include themed urns and caskets, neckties, flags, blankets and more. The Lobo Pavilion beautifully captures the spirit of the University of New Mexico and the of the Albuquerque community that so passionately identifies with it.
Cook Funeral and Cremation Services (Cook Family Services): Infant Services • Grandville, MI
Throughout the years, Cook Funeral and Cremation Services have offered free and discounted services to all families who have lost an infant or child. Recently, they have developed publications uniquely dedicated to this specific kind of loss with the hopes of giving the family lasting keepsake that help hold on to the precious memories and bring healing.
Trinity Memorial Gardens • Waldorf, Maryland
Trinity Memorial Gardens is proud to have Sadie, one of the few certified bereavement therapy dogs in the nation. Sadie worked with her handler for a year before passing her exam with a score of 100 percent in September 2012. Sadie has made over 100 visits in the community and Trinity Memorial Gardens was nominated as business of the year in 2012, in part because of Sadie’s work. In October 2012, Sadie attended her first funeral service and since then has been requested more and more. The demand for Sadie has been so high, she now has office hours, a Facebook page with over 750 friends and Trinity Memorial Gardens has started to sell plush Sadie toys so families can take her comfort home with them. While no one can take away the grief of losing a loved one, Sadie has been able to provide warmth, compassion and comfort to grieving families.
David Clayton & Sons Funeral Home • Duncanville, Texas
Often times, families don’t remember much of the day of the funeral, especially what each and every floral arrangement looked like and who sent it. This is why David Clayton & Sons Funeral Home started providing its families with a Floral Collection Book. This unique keepsake, which the funeral home creates and then presents at no additional cost to the family without their prior knowledge, includes a color photo of each flower arrangement, as well as the senders’ names and sympathy message. Positive feedback from the families indicates that the Floral Collection books are appreciated and cherished. www.davidclaytonfuneralhome.com
Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium • Lewes, Delaware
Parsell Funeral Home has implemented a top-notch hiring and personnel program aimed at providing “The Parsell Experience.” Before being hired, employees must submit to rigorous background and driving checks, expectations are set to ensure personnel are passionate about the position and they are given a “Removers Handbook” to study. Staff receives extensive training before being approved for family contact. Two employees are on call for nine-hour shifts each night and on weekends, which eliminates the need for nurses or family to assist with the removal and also gives maximum security, safety and assistance when returning to the funeral home. And finally, before departing from the decedent’s home or hospital bed, the bed is made, a dove keepsake is laid on the pillow with a poem called “Light a Candle,” and the family is assured that their loved one is in the best care. This program has led to many compliments from families about the funeral home’s professionalism and excellent service. www.parsellfuneralhomes.com
Miller-Carlin Funeral Homes • St. Cloud, Minnesota
Miller-Carlin Funeral Homes presents each family they serve with a “Family Pack.” This set of materials is customized for each individual family using any pictures they choose. The packs may contain any of the following:
- guestbook with every page customized
- customized memorial folders
- customized desk placards
- customized thank-you cards
- customized laminated obituary
- custom DVD using personal photos provided by the family
- angel pins for each pallbearer to wear during the service
They also take a photo of each floral piece and place it in a photo album along with the card from the corresponding arrangement. Any bereavement cards brought to the visitation, jewelry and belongings of the decedent, the cross used during the service, a pen and a letter opener are also included in the family pack. www.millercarlin.com
White Haven Memorial Park • Pittsford, New York
White Haven Memorial Park is experiencing a large increase in the number of families choosing cremation, which means a decrease in the number of services requiring a funeral director’s assistance. In response, they have put into place “Ours” Services. An on-staff arrangements counselor and a certified celebrant now work with the family to perform functions such as planning the service, making arrangements for clergy, music and military honors, coordinating receptions, providing for escorts to the burial site and making sure everyone knows what to do before, during and after the service. Customer families have lavished many words of gratitude upon the staff since they instituted the practice. www.whitehavenmemorialpark.com
Heritage Park/Rosehills Memorial Management • Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Heritage Park offers a press-quality coffee table book to families that documents what transpires during the family’s stay at Heritage Park and also honors and attempts to tell the story of the decedent. The book is intended to sit on a coffee table, thus inspiring conversations about the late family member. The pages consist of mainly photographs and illustrations accompanied by captions, letters, poems and quotes used during services. www.heritagepark.com.ph/dnn
Eternal Hills Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home • Klamath Falls, Oregon
In an effort to personalize services for every family they serve, Eternal Hills created an extensive interview guide to find out the life history, special events and important details that lead to a more personalized service. A service arranger along with an arrangement counselor plan and coordinate all personalization and order of service with the celebrant after he/she meets with the family. Eternal Hills uses an extensive interview that focuses on six areas of life: family, work/profession, community involvement/clubs, hobbies, church/religion, and vacations/special activities. After this information is gathered, a meeting is arranged with the clergy or celebrant to parlay the specific details. The service director is the master of ceremony introducing all participants, the order of service, and the wow factor—the special personalization planned for each service. In addition, Eternal Hills requires each service arranger to be a certified celebrant.
Kranz Funeral Home • Cass City, Michigan
Kranz Funeral Home provides a personalized blanket with the deceased’s name and dates and a custom-embroidered design specially chosen for each person. Kranz hires an embroiderer who goes online to the funeral home’s Web site and reads the obituary to decide on the design. Each one is displayed on a quilt rack during visitation. Families tell them time and again that the design is right on target in capturing the spirit of the deceased.
First Place & Grand Prize
WinnerMount Calvary Cemetery Group • Cheektowaga, New York
In a joint program with the Erie County Veterans Services Department and the County Burial Division, Mount Calvary Cemetery Group’s Pine Lawn Cemetery created a program in which honorably discharged veterans who are cremated and cannot afford a proper burial may be buried for free. Mount Calvary staff assists in securing the veteran’s granite military marker and arranges for a military forces honor guard and a celebrant if needed.
McKenzie & Blundy Funeral Home & Cremation Centre • Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
McKenzie & Blundy partners with the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority to plant a tree in memory of each deceased customer. Each family receives a sympathy card informing them a tree has been planted, a commemorative tree notice with the obituary of their loved one, a brochure about the McKenzie & Blundy Memorial Forests, an invitation to the annual dedication ceremony and a letter of gratitude for supporting reforestation. In addition, plaques bearing the customers’ names are placed on a memorial wall at the funeral home.
First Place & Grand Prize Winner
Cedar Memorial • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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.
Eternal Hills • Klammath Falls, Oregon
Eternal Hills offers families a variety of packages with extended services, including heaters for winter, fans for summer, beverages, a sound system and more.