ICCFA Names 2010 “Keeping It Personal” Award Winners

February 10, 2011
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STERLING, VA (February 9, 2011) — The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association has named its 2010 KIP (Keeping It Personal) Award winners, recognizing the best in personalization in the cemetery and funeral service profession.

Created by the ICCFA Personalization Committee, the KIP program honors recipients in five categories: Best Practice/Personal Touch; Most Personalized Service/Memorial; Events; Innovative Personalized Product (suppliers only); and Most Personalized Pet Service/Memorial. This is the first year the pet category has been offered.

This year’s contest drew 52 entries from across the United States and abroad. Communications and marketing professionals from outside the cemetery and funeral service profession performed the judging.

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Information on the winners is available on the ICCFA website at . Applications for the 2011 KIP Awards will be available from the ICCFA in April. The ICCFA congratulates the winners and all who entered the 2010 KIP Awards. The winners are as follows:

MOST PERSONALIZED SERVICE OR MEMORIAL

First Place & Grand Prize Winner

Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service

Columbus, Ohio

A community in central Ohio was stunned when a mom, her son and a family friend were murdered. The family turned to Schoedinger Funeral Home, who saw it as their challenge to help the healing process begin for the remaining daughter, family, friends and neighbors.

They planned a service that reflected on the lives of Tina, the mother, and Kody, the son, and not on the circumstances of their deaths. Schoedinger’s staff displayed matching red rose sprays atop each casket and used large photos of Tina and Kody as the focal point in the room. A DVD reflecting memories of happier times played while people struggled to make sense of the loss. Kody’s favorite sport was baseball and his mother loved sunflowers, so baseballs decorated by cheerleaders from Kody’s school and sunflowers were handed out to all who attended.

A bereavement care specialist helped children write messages on baseball cutouts and place them on a memory board during visitation periods. The family received hundreds of special memory cards. More than 220 visitors lit candles and shared memories on the funeral home’s website. Balloons were released at the cemetery.

In his closing remarks the minister emphasized the need for the town to keep carrying on in honor of Tina and Kody, saying “We still need to pick up the ball, and we still need to throw it. They would want us to.”

Honorable Mention

Pray Funeral Home

Charlotte, Michigan

Dorwin “Dade” Schultz was a gentle giant known as a horseman across the Midwest. For his funeral, Pray Funeral Home arranged for a wagon train from the funeral home to the cemetery with Dade’s own mules carrying his wooden casket, which was made by his Amish craftsmen friends. The procession attracted a great deal of media attention, allowing his family and friends to further share memories of Dade with those who may not have known him.

Honorable Mention

Omps Funeral Home

Winchester, Virginia

Patrick Harrison was a devoted husband, loving father and loyal Anheuser-Busch distributor who was struck down at just 39 years of age. Patrick spent his career owning and managing distributorships throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. To express his longtime dedication, in just three days Omps Funeral Home was able to work with Anheuser-Busch to insert a special cap panel inside of his casket and to arrange for a retired Budweiser Clydesdale to be present outside of all services. This was only the seventh time one of the horses has appeared at a funeral for someone outside of the Busch family. The Anheuser-Busch chief executive officer was in attendance for the services and later that year, at an annual stockholder meeting, he spotlighted Harrison’s services as an impressive expression of the life of a fallen comrade.

BEST PRACTICE

First Place

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.

Honorable Mention

Heritage Park/Rosehills Memorial Management

Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Heritage Park has begun offering a press-quality coffee table book to families that honors and attempts to tell the complete life story of the decedent. The pages contain photographs, illustrations, letters, poems and quotes to pay tribute to the loved one. The book is intended to sit on a coffee table, thus inspiring conversations about the late family member.

EVENTS

First Place

Royal Oak Burial Park

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Royal Oak Burial Park held an event they called Summer So[u]lstice in June 2010 that invited the public to visit the cemetery and see the burial park’s newly opened traditional interment area as well as the Woodlands, Canada’s first urban green burial site (now recognized as a certified natural burial provider by the Green Burial Council of North America). Poets, musicians, a local historian and other artists were on hand to create a friendly, non-threatening and upbeat environment for those who attended. Some of the volunteers assisted families in creating a personal remembrance banner for those who already had family members buried in the park or had family buried elsewhere but just wanted to leave a personal message at the event. The goal of the event was to connect the cemetery to the community in a positive, upbeat manner and demonstrate the valued role cemeteries have as sacred spaces in the community.

Honorable Mention

Wilbert Funeral Services

Forest Park, Illinois

The Wilbert Foundation, a 501c(3) organization, has donated more than $420,000 and delivered 2,500+ Teddy bears to children’s chaplaincy programs throughout the United States and Canada. In 2007, Wilbert partnered with the Pediatric Chaplains Network to create the Pediatric Chaplains Institute and donated $50,000 to underwrite the development of a grief training curriculum. Since then, Wilbert has donated $5,000 each year in scholarships for chaplains in need of financial support to attend the institute. The program has enabled more than 60 chaplains to receive training for providing spiritual, bereavement and other age-specific support to children and their families.

Honorable Mention

Sunset Memorial Park, French Family of Companies

Albuquerque, New Mexico

The French Family of Companies has created a semi-annual U.S. flag retirement ceremony in partnership with the Great Southwest Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The event serves many purposes, including: teaching new generations about flag etiquette and protocol; providing a vehicle for local organizations such as the VFW, police and fire departments to properly dispose of worn flags; and serving as one of the key Memorial Day and Veterans Day events in the local community. In addition, the cemetery buried a vault where metal hardware from retired flags and flagpoles may be permanently entombed.

INNOVATIVE/PERSONALIZED PRODUCT (SUPPLIERS)

First Place

Alternative Solutions USA

Spring Valley, California

Alternative Solutions USA is a non-profit program that recycles implants left after cremation and generates substantial funds for numerous U.S. charities such as The Unforgettables, which has so far received over $16,000 to assist low-income families in providing a dignified and appropriate burial for their children who have died.

Honorable Mention

Signature Series

Madison, Wisconsin

Signature Series provides families with limitless personalization options on memorial products. Family photos and text may be applied to personalize virtually any casket, urn or vault. Ideas that reflect their lifestyle, a passion for a favorite sports team, a religious viewpoint or a branch of service they so proudly served are a few options clients have chosen to appear on products.

Honorable Mention

Love Ashes

Lakewood Ranch, Florida

Love Ashes infuses cremains into beautiful pendants, earrings and framed memorials. They may be custom-designed based on the customer’s preferences and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

MOST PERSONALIZED PET SERVICE/MEMORIAL

First Place

Two Hearts Pet Loss Center

Greenwood, Indiana

Cherokee was a beloved St. Bernard and played the roles of daughter and big sister in her family. When she passed away, Coleen Ellis with Two Hearts helped the family express their gratitude for the time they had Cherokee in their lives, holding a home-based memorial service that allowed the family to share just how much Cherokee enriched their lives. Reception items included all the favorite “human food” Cherokee liked to eat. Two Hearts also helped the family’s son set up a drive in honor of Cherokee for items that were needed at the local Humane Society animal shelter. Two trucks were needed to deliver all the donated items to the shelter.

Honorable Mention

My Bob Rocks

Roseburg, Oregon

My Bob Rocks fuses ashes into smooth, jewel-colored glass discs designed to be shared among family and friends. While the company primarily works with human remains, this past year they were asked by pet owners to expand their market. When a family lost their beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback named Tess, the Oregon-based business was able to make “Tessrocks” with the ash in a paw print pattern, cradled in red-brown glass to match her beautiful coat. Pet memorials now account for 20 percent of the company’s business

Grand prize winner Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service receives a free registration to the ICCFA 2011 Annual Convention & Exposition, March 8-11, at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

All first-place and honorable mention winners will be recognized at the Convention and in ICCFA Magazine and are being provided promotional news releases to submit to their local media.

Founded in 1887, the ICCFA is the only international trade association representing all segments of the cemetery, cremation, funeral and memorialization industry. Its membership is comprised of more than 7,500 cemeteries, funeral homes, memorial designers, crematories and related businesses worldwide.

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