The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) 2017 International Convention and Expo, held October 29 through November 1 in Boston, drew 6,207 total attendees (4,105 attendees and 2,102 exhibitor representatives), the association announced in a prepared release. A total of 514 international attendees, representing 42 countries and territories, participated in the 2017 NFDA Convention. The Expo Hall featured 381 exhibiting companies which filled 92,568 square feet of space (925 10’ x 10’ booth spaces), according to the release.
The convention featured a slate of workshops that challenged attendees to think about funeral service in new ways and offered strategies to help them understand the evolving needs and desires of the bereaved families.
The Expo Hall was a highlight for many attendees because, in addition to connecting with their valued supplier partners, they also discovered new products and services that they can offer to families in their communities.
NFDA General Sessions Feature Speakers With Powerful Messages
NFDA hosted two speakers for its general sessions. John C. Maxwell, a noted leadership expert, opened the convention on Monday with an inspiring message about how to communicate in a way that runs far deeper than words.
During the Monday general session, 2016-17 NFDA President W. Ashley Cozine offered his perspective on excellence and teamwork. He emphasized the importance of every funeral director and funeral home in the country doing their absolute best to serve each and every family that walks through the door.
During the general session on Monday, attendees also heard from NFDA CEO Christine Pepper, who shared some of NFDA’s newest offerings including the NFDA Work/Life Resource Program, a confidential resource that offers information, tools and guidance from licensed counselors and advisors who can provide confidential guidance on a variety of issues, from stress management and substance abuse to relationship issues and financial concerns. The Work/Life Resource program is available to NFDA members, their staff and immediate family members at no cost.
Pepper also highlighted: plans for a consumer website that educates consumers about the value of memorialization and connects families with NFDA-member funeral homes; a new embalming and restorative arts seminar – featuring live demonstrations – in May 2018 at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science; a new embalming brochure that explains embalming and the benefits of viewing to consumers; and a new video, “A Career in Funeral Service,” that can be used by funeral directors as they speak in the community about working in the funeral profession.
During the closing session, three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Troy Aikman was interviewed by local Boston sportscaster Trey Daerr and shared how attendees can develop their inner champion.
Honoring the Christian and Jewish Funeral Traditions
A highlight of the 2017 NFDA Convention was the Service of Remembrance, which explored the rich and timeless funeral traditions of the Christian, Orthodox, Catholic and Jewish faiths. As is NFDA’s custom, the Service of Remembrance was also a time for attendees to remember and honor the memory of colleagues and family members who died during the last year.
On Saturday, October 28, NFDA volunteers shared their time and talents with Habitat for Humanity of Boston. This year, 12 volunteers helped at a home being built in Dorchester, Mass., for a family with two young children.
Ben and Liz Cressy lived, worked, and worshipped in the Codman Square area of Dorchester for a decade. After learning that their son would become a big brother, they realized they needed a larger apartment for their growing family. They found themselves priced out of Dorchester, a community they hoped to call home. Now they live far away in Lynn, Mass., in a two-bedroom apartment on a very busy main street with no outdoor space for their kids to play. When the couple heard that Habitat for Humanity of Boston was seeking applications for its newest development in Codman Square, it seemed like fate.
Thanks, in part, to the generosity of NFDA volunteers, the Cressy family will realize their American dream of home ownership in their beloved community of Dorchester.
NFDA Honors Funeral Service All Stars
During the All Star Recognition Ceremony, NFDA recognized funeral professionals who, within the last year, had earned their NFDA Cremation Certification (Certified Crematory Operator or Certified Cremation Services Provider designation); NFDA Certified Preplanning Consultant designation; or their Certified Funeral Service Practitioners designation from the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice.
NFDA also honored recipients of a Foundation ’45 scholarship or award from the Funeral Service Foundation, and the association’s first recipient of the International Professional Achievement Certificate.
Additionally, NFDA paid tribute to the funeral homes that are Green Funeral Practice Certificate holders and 2017 Pursuit of Excellence Award recipients – including the Best of the Best Award recipients and Hall of Excellence inductees – during the All Star Recognition Ceremony.
During the Monday General Session, NFDA presented the 2017 NFDA Innovation Award to ASD – Answering Service for Directors The company was recognized for its Suicide-Telephone Operator Patch (STOP) System. Established in 2009, the NFDA Innovation Award recognizes and promotes creativity, innovation and excellence among funeral service suppliers and vendors.