BROOKFIELD, WIS. - The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) 2013 International Convention & Expo, held Oct. 20-23 in Austin, Texas, drew 5,643 total attendees and 371 exhibiting companies to an event that continues to open new doors to opportunity for the funeral service community.
“NFDA was honored to recognize and host the winners of the international Design for Death competition, the first of its kind, in Austin,” said NFDA CEO Christine Pepper. “Winners came from all over the globe to be honored during the Opening General Session and display their winning entries in the Expo Hall. We were also happy that members appreciated the expanded educational offerings Wednesday afternoon, the outreach to members of the hospice community and the closing Texas-themed party where everyone celebrated in cowboy hats and boots. It’s been great to hear lots of upbeat comments over the last few years about some of the changes we’ve made, like offering free passes into the Expo Hall.”
Funeral Service Gives Back
Since 2008, NFDA Convention attendees and exhibitors have given back to their host city by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Attendees helped make home ownership a reality for a family in Austin by volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity work site for a day. NFDA volunteers departed from the Austin Convention Center on the morning of Saturday, October 19 and spent the day volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity work site.
Throughout the NFDA Convention, attendees and exhibitors also had a number of opportunities to support Comfort Zone Camp, a camp that supports children through their grief journey following the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver.
In the end, convention attendees and exhibitors gave more than $20,000. When combined with a $20,000 lead gift from NGL Insurance Group and a $10,000 matching gift from the Funeral Service Foundation, NFDA was able to present a check to Comfort Zone Camp for more than $50,000. This amount will support more than 100 children at camp for an entire weekend.
“Members of the funeral service community by nature are compassionate, giving people,” said Pepper. “Comfort Zone Camp is a tremendous organization, and I am so proud of our attendees and exhibitors for their generosity. The money raised will make a tremendous difference in the lives of many grieving children.”
Design For Death
Design for Death was an international competition that invited designers, artists and other people with a creative spirit to submit innovative ideas for how families might remember loved ones who die. The competition was sponsored by two foundations in Singapore – the Lien Foundation and ACM Foundation. NFDA and the international design website DesignBoom also supported the competition. This competition, which drew more than 1,300 entries from 90 countries, was the first of its kind in the world for funeral service.
The competition winners were presented with their awards during the general session on Oct. 21, and were able to share their winning designs in the Expo Hall.
“From the mushroom burial suit to the ‘family tree’ niches for cremated remains – it was clear that the winning designers put a lot of thought and a lot of creativity into their designs,” said Pepper, who also served as a competition judge. “The entries were unlike anything I have seen before, but they reflected the unique ideas that people have for remembering and honoring the lives of their loved ones. Participants took the competition seriously and developed designs that were sensitive interpretations of life and death, grief, relationships and memories. They thoughtfully intertwined function, style, aesthetics and environmental sustainability in their designs.”
Pepper continued, “I heard from many people who visited the Design for Death booth in our Expo Hall. They were as intrigued by the winning designs as I was. They appreciated seeing how people outside of funeral service think about death, funerals and the way we remember and honor people who have died. A number of members mentioned how inspired they were by the designs.”
“Austin was a wonderful host city and we are grateful to the Texas Funeral Directors Association for their assistance and generous hospitality,” said Pepper. “We appreciate the many fine workshop presenters who took time to share their expertise. We’re thankful for the many vendors who make our expo the largest in the world and help attendees discover the products and services they can use to better serve families. We appreciate the support of our generous sponsors who partner with us to help make this convention an invaluable experience.”
Pepper continued, “Most of all, we’re grateful to all the funeral professionals who attended the Convention, especially those who came for the first time. NFDA offers access to the largest network of funeral service experts in the world, which was on full display in Austin. Our Convention is strengthened by the presence of thousands of funeral professionals who are eager to learn from and share ideas with their colleagues from around the world.”
Anticipation for next year’s NFDA International Convention & Expo is already building. The 2014 Convention will take place Oct. 12-15 at the new Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn.
“NFDA members in Tennessee and the Tennessee Funeral Directors Association are looking forward welcoming us to their state and to the brand new convention center in downtown Nashville,” Pepper said.