From the June 2018 OMA Annual Meeting
Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to the 57th Annual meeting of the Oregon Memorial Association. 57 years. That means our first meeting was in 1961 --- the first year I could vote and legally drink.
The first member who signed up back in 1961 is here today at Holliday Park Plaza, though I don’t know if she’s in the room. Eleanor Davis, a resident here, is member number 1.
I could have looked up her date of birth in our membership database, but a gentleman never tells.
We’re VERY pleased that Holliday Park Plaza and resident Jack Fruwing agreed to host us this year. Last year it was Rose Villa and the year before that Willamette View. I’m told we’ve had numerous annual meetings here in the past. I imagine we’ve been all over town in 57 years.
Today’s theme is “Green Burial.” Right off, the name is controversial. Some want to call it “Natural Burial” or Eco-Burial. But the New York Times calls it “Green” and there is a nation “Green Burial Council” non-profit, so that seems to be the most common term.
By the way, a Guide for Families put out by the Green Burial Council is available at our information table in the lobby, and the Times article, the Families Guide and a lot more material is available on our website and our Facebook page. Information on how to access those resources is also available at that table.
Back in 1961, you probably got your medications from your neighborhood pharmacy, and you probably knew the pharmacist/owner personally. Now you get your meds at your grocery store or from a big national chain. The same think is happening in the funeral services industries – the mom and pops are being gobbled up by the big nationals, and they’re primarily driven by the bottom line. At the same time, body disposal alternatives that do not necessarily use traditional funeral services are becoming much more prevalent – cremation, aqua-mation or water cremation, and green burial. We’re well aware that we need to change to fit in to this future.
Our mission is and always has been to support members in end-of-life planning and provide consumer protections in an era of corporate take overs and depersonalization.
The format of the meeting today is that you’ll have to put up with me for a few more minutes, then we’ll have a short video introduction to green burial followed by a panel discussion with people who have participated in green services, a time for questions and answers then a 15 minute break to visit the service provider tables, enjoy coffee or tea and cookies, and use the facilities.
After the break we will re-convene to hold our business meeting where we nominate and elect new trustees, followed by a financial report and an opportunity for input from you about the Association.
Gratitudes for current members, trustees and volunteers
Now is the time when I get to say what’s on my mind. First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude for all the volunteers who make the organization possible. Even though we have one paid part-time staff member, all of us small non-profits run on volunteer effort and hours. This is especially true of those who agree to serve on our Board of Trustees – each of them has responsibility for an area of our operations – relations with providers, preparation and delivery of educational materials and workshops, advocating for our members’ interests in the halls of state government, reaching out for new membership, and all the functions necessary to keep the organization running – accounting, hiring and supervising our office manager, government reporting, information technology functions like our web site and facebook page. In addition to looking after their special responsibilities, trustees agree to attend a monthly meeting. Those who are on the Executive Committee – President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and one other, attend another monthly meeting.
But in addition to the trustees, other members of OMA volunteer their time and talents: David Chilstrom our database quy, John Gear attorney, Sue Staehli facebook administrator, Dave Howard our president emeritus, Sophia Douglas, Barbara Smythe, Josh Soske, and Naomi Wamacks come to mind. Dave Howard wanted very much to be here today, but we all understand that medical needs take priority. Thank you, Dave, for the times I needed to have someone to talk things over with. The danger with mentioning anyone like this is that I’ll leave someone out; it that’s you, I apologize and hereby acknowledge your contributions, too.
Acknowledgement to former contributors, farewells, thank yous and recognitionsAmongst our trustees, of course, Jeanne Staehli stands out. Jeanne has been our President, our Treasurer, our Provider liaison, our office manager, our phone answerer – she’s done everything in OMA including resurrecting it from a moribund state when a tired board was seriously considering dissolving the organization. Jeanne stepped down from her board duties for personal reasons earlier this year, but she continues to provide us with her wisdom and guidance. Let’s give Jeanne a big round of appreciation.
RCA Moore, our panel moderator for today’s program, is also stepping down from Board duties as of the expiration of his term today. He’s been planning this easing-off for some time, but recently his doctors have insisted on it. RCA has also been our president, secretary and has headed the Education Foundation’s efforts including authoring the All’s Well That Ends Well end of life planning workbook and running the workshop many times. He plans to continue being involved with OMA and to train several of us to conduct the workshops in the future. Huge thanks to you, RCA.
Also not continuing on the Board of Trustees are Mike Staehli, who implemented and maintained our previous website for a number of years, Philip Berger, and David Linn. David used what he learned on our board in his graduate studies, and what he learned in graduate studies on our board. These three know how grateful we are for their service.
The year’s changes and challengesSo, what’s been going on at OMA and the Funeral Consumer Education Foundation since we met last year? We had one provider in the mid-valley cancel their agreement with us. We are able to refer members to another provider in mid-valley, but we understand that Salem and Albany are not adjacent, so we are working to add providers both down state and across state. Speaking of Salem, board member Christopher Hamilton has been representing our interests in the halls of state government. His law firm works on legislative issues, so he has attended hearings of interest to us – like simplifying the Advanced Directives.
Robin Chilstrom, our office manager for the last two years, left us last fall as her life circumstances changed. Robin did a magnificent job of designing and implementing our new website, and any of you who talked with her on the phone knew what a compassionate, understanding and helpful presence she was.
It took us three months to find a replacement. (that is, by the way, one of the many times that Jeanne Staehli stepped up to the plate to run the office and handle phone calls). I wrote about the qualifications of our new office manager, Mary Ziemer-McGinn, in the newsletter. If you haven’t seen it, there are some available at our table. The title “office manager” doesn’t do the job justice. In the first place, we don’t have an office. We have a post office box and Mary works out of her home. And the position entails much more than “managing.” In fact, the number one task is to be with you on the phone when you call, often because of the impending or recent demise of a loved one. We couldn’t be more pleased and excited to have Mary as part of the team. You can meet her here today. Stand up, Mary.
Goals and hopes for 2018
Now I turn to our goals for the coming year.
Let me remind you that if you’re not already a member of OMA you can join today during the break or after the meeting. And we need you to return after the break for a short business meeting to elect our new directors.
To download a full copy of the annual Newsletter, click here.