Disaster in Haiti - How to Help & What Funeral Directors Should Know

Watching the news for the past few days it’s easy to get compassion fatigue seeing all of the videos of the suffering, devastation, and loss in Haiti. To say our minds can’t comprehend the situation is an understatement. Our sympathies and hearts go out to all those affected. There’s no doubt everyone wants to help, but how? The news channels are almost scaring people into not helping due to all of the scams that are already arising from this situation.

Here are some safe ways to make a donation for those who can help financially:

The American Red Cross. You can donate $10 by texting Haiti to 90999. The $10 charge will appear on your cell phone bill. Their website link is www.redcross.org, or click on the icon below. They are not accepting volunteers to travel to the county.

Doctors Without Borders. They are in dire need of money for medicine and medical supplies. They also need medically trained volunteers. www.doctorswithoutborders.com or click on the icon below.

Compassion International. Compassion has been working in Haiti for more than 40 years and is partnered with 230 churches helping more than 65,000 children and their families.

The Compassion website has provided a breakdown of where your donations will go:

You can provide immediate relief today. www.compassion.com or click on the picture below.

$35 helps provide a relief pack filled with enough food and water to sustain a family for one week.

$70 gift helps care for their needs for two weeks.

$105 helps provide relief packs filled with enough food and water to sustain two families for two weeks.

$210 gift helps care for two families' needs.

$525 helps provide relief packs filled with enough food and water to sustain 10 families for two weeks.

$1,050 gift helps care for 10 families' needs.

$1,500 helps rebuild a home.

$2,100 helps supply 20 families with the basics for three weeks.

If you can’t help financially, please keep these families and those traveling to Haiti to help in your thoughts and prayers.

From a press release from the National Funeral Directors Association sent out this morning (1-14-10):

NFDA members interested in volunteering in Haiti should call the association at 800-228-6332 (262-789-1880). NFDA staff is collecting members’ contact information in order to keep interested parties abreast of ways they might be able to assist the federal government and funeral service professionals in Haiti, should their service prove necessary. If you contact NFDA, please indicate if you hold a valid passport and how long you are willing to serve, as well as an email address or cell phone number to assist in rapid communication. Members should not travel to the affected areas on their own as conditions are severe; participating in a coordinated effort will make for an effective response to the needs of the Haitian people.
In addition, funeral directors should not contact Haitian funeral directors about shipping bodies once communication is restored. Haitian funeral directors in the affected areas have their own struggles now, and cannot accept bodies at this time.


New Regulation for Funeral Service in Colorado

For the first time since 1982, funeral service in Colorado is being regulated at the state level, sort of. As of January 1, 2010 all funeral homes and crematories must register with the Department of Regulatory Agencies, DORA. Not to be confused with licensure, registration means you must simply stand up and be counted, and of course pay the fee of $544 per funeral home, or $633 per crematory. Figuring out what you have to pay is about as simple as figuring out all the ways the Denver Broncos could have made it in the play-offs this year.

1. If there are multiple Funeral Home businesses at one address, only one application per address is required.

2. Funeral Homes that offer cremation services but contract out the cremation services only need to register as a Funeral Home.

3. If you offer Funeral Goods and Services at a location (i.e., office, home, vehicle) and the services are provided elsewhere or contracted out, you must register as a Funeral Home.

4. If you offer and provide both Funeral and Crematory services at one address, separate applications will be required for the Funeral Home business(es) and Crematory business(es).

So what will the financial windfall bring funeral service? Not primary inspections of the registered funeral homes, but rather they cover the entire cost of the program which include all of the administrative, registration, legal, as well as enforcement costs.

What does it mean to the consumer? The funeral director must provide contact information on the funeral contract to the consumer should they wish to file a formal complaint with the state through DORA. There are also several pages of updated law on cremation, which in theory if followed should prevent a Colorado crematory operator from ever being on national news for cremating the wrong body. On the books, those changes are arguably good.

It’s too soon to say whether or not these laws will be effective in protecting the public from unscrupulous funeral directors, bad apples are everywhere in every profession regardless of the laws. Two main questions will need to be answered to determine if this is a successful program:

1. Are consumers being protected?

2. Will oversights by the state be appropriate and effective?

So right now we’ll put these new laws in the cautiously optimistic category, and see if something is better than nothing. For more information from the Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration visit http://www.dora.state.co.us/funeralhome-crematory/index.htm.


The Never Ending Lists of 2009

The Never Ending Lists of 2009

One can’t watch TV in the last few weeks of the year without seeing a never ending parade of lists. The best of this, the worst of that, the funniest, the best make-overs, on and on it goes.

I always rely on the CBS Sunday Morning Show for the list of notables who died in any given year, however this year the list was the longest I’ve ever watched. Almost for a full 20 minutes the stories were told of people whose life stories I knew well, some of whom I have never heard of, and some whom I didn’t know were even still alive (so I was surprised to hear they had died).

About 10 minutes into it, I thought, “I wish they would go to a commercial break so I can make my eggs, and get a fresh cup of coffee.” But on this list went. Suffice it to say there were other famous people who died this year along with Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, and Farah Fawcett. Here’s a link to the video with the smooth narration of Charles Osgood naming off the accomplishments of these notables.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt_HrlnP5e0 Part I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmghtxoXaT4 Part II

But the most comprehensive list I found on the web made me wonder, who is still alive?


When I copied just the list, not the story, it took 14 pages of a word document to paste.

Perhaps that’s why I like the quietness of January; there are no lists, no high profile tragedies have occurred (yet), and the hope that 2010 will be a fantastic year with health and happiness is still preserved.