Thursday, March 21, 2013

There is Empowerment in Remembering.

Have you ever seen Dr. Suess' hit movie, The Lorax? It's a fun yet cautionary tale that promotes environmental awareness, self motivation and sustainability- all very important things for our society to remember.

As I was watching the movie with my own children, I couldn't help but become excited about a small prop that is used. It is a simple stone with the simple word "UNLESS" engraved on it. As the movie went on the Onceler proclaimed,

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing will get better. It's not."

What a powerful statement! Even more importantly, what a wonderful message to empower our children to realize that, if used appropriately, their voices can be heard to make important changes- changes for the better.

I became inspired by the meaning of the little rock, as did the staff here at Emerson Monument Company, and decided to help the Lorax communicate his message by taking it to the local schools. And I am SO glad that we did because it has been a really fun and enjoyable project for us all to work on!

Presenting Our Stone to a Local Elementary School 

When we presented our stones to the local schools we incorporated it into their curriculum in several fun and meaningful ways.

At one school we incorporated the presentation into their Kindergarten Career Day. I began my career day presentation by telling the kids that I am a Memorialist. (a big word for 5 and 6 year olds!) I told them that in my career I help people remember important people and important events. They seemed to understand that and even had some suggestions about the people and events they think are important. 
I then read the portion of , The Lorax, to them that illustrates the UNLESS rock.

"What do you think The Lorax's important message means? And why is it important?" They had some wonderful (and, I will admit, some very funny) answers! "But why is it important that this message be remembered by future generations?" I challenged.

And, most importantly of all, "Why do you think the Lorax chose to engrave his message on a stone rather than simply write it on paper or post it on Facebook?"

All around us, in our community centers and public places, in our cemeteries, in our gardens, and even in our businesses, there are dedications to those people and events that we regard as important and special. They are individuals, groups and historical events that have defined who we are, where we come from and why we think and act the way we do.

We honor them by keeping their memories alive- forever. But in a world of dwindling permanence, the only way to truly keep those memories alive- even decades after we, ourselves, are gone- is to etch those memories in stone to ensure they remain memorable for generations yet to come.

That is my objective as a memorialist- to tell stories in stone that will be cherished and remembered for generations; To honor the lives and events that have defined us, and to do so in a beautifully permanent way.

My name is Alison Raymer and I am proud to be a memorialist at Emerson Monument Company and to work with the families and communities which I serve.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Emerson's Staff Leading the Industry

Springdale, AR - Alison Raymer, CEO and co-owner of Emerson Monument Company, was nominated by fellow memorialists and elected as the 2013-2015 vice president of the Monument Builders of North America. She was installed into the position at the annual convention and banquet held in Cincinnati, OH, on February 7-10, 2012.

Founded in 1906, the Monument Builders of North America is the largest association of professional memorialists in the nation with a membership of 733 that spans internationally.

When you purchase a monument or headstone from an MBNA member, you are assured of ethical, honest business practices from someone who is committed to his or her industry and art. They are dedicated to providing you with a grave marker or tombstone that will embody the story you want told.

As part of their membership, MBNA member companies sign a statement of policy, The Code of Good Practice. This code promotes fair and honest business practices that, in turn, serve and protect the consumer.

“In this position I will represent memorialists not only from North America, but also from across the world. I will help develop and implement strategic advancement for our industry, continuing professional education and the international exchange of ideas for our members,” said Ms. Raymer.

Emerson Monument Company has been an active part of the Northwest Arkansas business community since 1914 as a leading provider in quality cemetery and civic memorials. The company has also been involved in countless volunteer cemetery repair projects including a large-scale project at the historic Evergreen Cemetery in Fayetteville.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Need Funds? Buy Bricks!

Let's face it, everyone could use a little extra cash every now and then. And in today's economy it can be tough for non-profits, schools and other facilities to raise the funds they need to continue offering the products or services they provide. But, with just a simple phone call to Emerson Monument Co and a little sales effort, your organization can start a sustainable fundraiser that gives donors even more of a reason to pull out their check books.

Engraved brick fundraisers have been around for decades and have been used by both non-profit and for-profit organizations alike. The reason it works is because donors are recognized in a manner that is both fairly permanent and public. Because the public can see who donated, it is not uncommon for organizations to recognize various donor levels by including level icons on the pavers along with donor information.

While planning to do a brick fundraiser there are several questions important questions to ask and address.

Where will your bricks be placed?
    • I have seen facilities incorporate bricks into sidewalks and walkways, place them around planters and garden areas and lay them into walls.
  • Who will manage the brick campaign?
    • The most successful campaigns are those that have a dedicated campaign manager who works closely with the donor and with Emerson Monument Company to ensure all provided information will fit on the brick and all engraved information is accurate. A great campaign manager will also keep track of where on the premises the brick is located so donors may find it with ease.
  • When will the bricks be placed?
    • From our experience we have found that it is typically less expensive to place several bricks at one time as opposed to placing one here and one there.
    • If you envision your fundraising effort to last for several years, we recommend visiting with us about how to appropriately plan and how our on-site engraving services work.
Think your organization can't do bricks? Think again! We have done bricks for the following types of organizations:
  • public schools
  • private schools
  • pre-schools and day cares
  • athletic leagues
  • civic memorials
  • therapeutic treatment facilities
  • arts centers
  • gardens
  • churches
  • animal shelters
  • non-profit foundations
  • cities/downtowns
  • amusement parks
If you would like to explore the possibility of an engraved brick or paver fundraising campaign for your organization, contact Emerson Monument Company and learn how your group can grow!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Murder, Faith and Dreams.

Ask anyone who knew Dustin Chamberlain and they will tell you he was a shining star. Bright, polite, caring and kind, athletic, charismatic, goal oriented and a follower of Christ. Dustin was grounded in his faith and knew that he was being called to serve others through medical missions. But no one could have ever imagined the manner in which he would truly be called- not even Dustin.
In December of 2011 Dustin completed the first semester of his Sophomore year at Baylor University. Attending Baylor was a dream come true for Dustin and he savored most every moment of it. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to work toward his life-long dream of becoming a doctor and jumped into the Pre-Med/Biology program feet first! As a Pre-Med student he was active in several medical service organizations and The Bear Pit, a crazy-fun Baylor Bears Basketball spirit organization and tradition. He loved being involved, loved the group of friends that he had made and loved being a student at Baylor.

When Dustin came home to Arkansas for a much-anticipated Christmas break, he was excited about spending time with his family, visiting with his parents about a medical mission trip, looking at potential medical school programs and taking a short break from hitting the books. But before he could do any of that he had to have a minor outpatient procedure performed- after that, he could relax and enjoy.

On the morning of December 15, 2011, Dustin was recovering from his outpatient procedure at home in Northwest Arkansas. Although his parents offered to stay home from work and nurse him back to health, he insisted that he was fine and didn't feel as though he needed assistance. His parents agreed that he would be okay without them and his father made plans to come have lunch with him later in the day. 

But after his parents backed out of the driveway, watched the garage door shut and drove off to work, their worst nightmare began to unfold.

Lurking in the shadows behind the garage was a stranger, a local man, who had been reported as depressed, suicidal and missing. He stood out there for about two hours, waiting for the family to leave for the day- waiting for the opportunity to enter their home. 
But the stranger wasn't quiet about making an entrance, in fact, he is believed to have caused quiet a commotion, which Dustin heard from inside the home.

Home invasions aren't common in the small town of Siloam Springs. In fact, the possibility of a home invasion was probably the last scenario on Dustin's mind. The family dog often got into the garage and made noise, and is, more than likely, what Dustin thought was going on.

But when Dustin made it to the door, he came face to face with an intruder. Neither man expected to run into one another in that doorway that morning. The surprised intruder was armed and fatally shot Dustin 4 times. He then proceeded to pilfer through the house until he finally sat down in a chair in the family room and shot himself.

Dustin's parents loved having him home for Christmas and his mother called him throughout the morning to check on him- but received no answer. Her initial thought was that he was sleeping and recovering from his procedure, but became concerned and asked his father to run to the house and check him. Little did he know at that time, that Dustin had truly gone Home for Christmas.

When I first met the Chamberlains they knew one thing about how they wanted Dustin to be remembered. They wanted their son, the sweet auburn-haired boy who had a tender heart and genuine spirit, to be remembered as a man of God, who sought to live his life for Him. They referenced a statement Dustin often made when asked why he pushed himself so hard or worried about making the right decisions and that was, "Because I love God and don't want to give him less than my best." He also had a verse he loved- Hebrews 12:1-2, that the family wanted to incorporate along with his photo, a vase and the Baylor University Logo.

Dustin never could have imagined the manner in which he was called to serve, but his parents, family and friends now know that Dustin was called in a unique and special way. He was called to serve with his memory in a way that will continue to touch countless people around the world through The Dustin Chamberlain Memorial Foundation, also known as Dustin's Dream.

Dustin's Dream is very much alive today and has recently partnered with the John Brown University Mission Team to construct a medical clinic in Guatemala City. In 2013 the two organizations will host events and fundraisers to help raise the $50,000 that is needed to erect the medical clinic that will serve those in need of treatment.

The first fundraising event they are hosting is Dustin's Heavenly Birthday party, to celebrate Dustin's life and dreams. It will be held on Saturday, December 15, 2012 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm in the Lowe's parking lot in Siloam Springs. Doorprizes will be given away every 30 minutes and balloons will be released at 1:00.  Lunch and birthday cupcakes will be served, with all proceeds going to support Dustin's Dream.

For those wishing to donate to Dustin's Dream but unable to attend, you may click here to email the Foundation.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Foliage...Foliage...And More Foliage!

The spring and fall colors found in our Northwest Arkansas cemeteries are some of our favorite! And, since we are in the middle of our fall season, I wanted to share some fall photos with you and also invite you to share your own fall cemetery photos in our Cemeteries in the Fall Photo Contest. This contest is found on our Facebook page and is beginning to pick up momentum!

To participate simply like our website page, go to "Photo Contest" and then upload and invite your friends to vote.

A couple of years ago I purchased my first "nice" camera for the purpose of taking photos of monuments that we had made in the cemetery.

As I practiced and became better at photography, I discovered that I have a passion for not only capturing memorials, but also for capturing memorials that are surrounded by beautiful fall colors.

I wanted to share some of those photos with you. Please note all of these photos are the property of Emerson Monument Co. and may not be used without prior permission for any purpose.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Creating Timeless Memorials

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is the opportunity to really get to know the families I work with and help them create beautiful memorials for their loved ones. That is also the hardest part of my job, as it is tough to watch families hurt and try to cope with the pain they are feeling. However, it is always an honor to know that they have chosen to trust both myself and my team here at Emerson to create their loved one's memorial.

When families come into our store they often come in with an idea of what they would like the memorial to look like. Sometimes the idea is something they thought up that represents a hobby, belief, or life long mission. Other times the family might bring in photos of something they have seen out in the cemetery that they would also like to have for their loved one.

I recently worked with a sweet family that came to me with an idea for a memorial for their beautiful daughter. They brought in this photo (below) and asked if we could do something similar.

There were several things the family liked about this monument. They loved the shape with the detailing on the top and bottom sides. They also loved the raised carving (you can see the carving just above her name appears to "pop out" from the granite) and the two bases that it sits on.

As I began to visit with the family about their ideas I came to learn that they wanted the design to be soft and feminine yet classic. We decided that a raised, shape carved rose in place of the hand would be stunning, along with a raised, shape carved ivy border up top.

The family also told me that the monument would be going in an older section of the cemetery and that the surrounding monuments looked like this (below).

Isn't that beautiful?! Those old monuments are stunning and timeless, two elements that the family wished to accomplish with their daughter's memorial. Keeping the surrounding monuments in mind, we suggested that the monument be "steeled". A steeled monument is a monument that has had the shiny polish removed to create a classic look.

Once we worked with the family and they approved of the shape, size and design, we began working on the monument. I have added photos of the process below.

We sandblast the monument

We carefully place a specil stencil on the monument.
We shape carve the monument by hand
Completed monument in the cemetery

This stunning memorial is a beautiful reminder of sweet Cara's life and the legacy that she left to her family, friends and to others whose lives she may not have even realized she touched.

If you are interested in creating a memorial for yourself on a pre-need basis or for a loved one, please contact Emerson Monument Co. and we will help guide you through the process.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Are Those Tree Stumps?!

Walk into just about any older cemetery around the US and you will likely stumble across a memorial that looks something like this.
 Monuments that appear as old tree stumps dot cemetery landscapes and often go unnoticed by many. And those who do happen to notice their unique shape and fraternal emblem do not always understand what they represent or why they are there. I, myself, was included in the group of folks who had a limited understanding of the stump-shaped memorials, and sought information on them that I would like to share.

As you can read on the emblem, these monuments are recognizing members of Woodmen of the World. It is a fraternal organization started in 1883, that offered life insurance benefits.
The Woodmen of the World (WOW) has maintained a system of lodges in which members meet and organize various activities.
Part of the membership creed supported the concept of a right to the dignity of a marked grave. Policy holders could elect to have a monument built with the Woodmen of the World incorporated on it and erected on his grave and have the cost covered by a rider from the insurance policy.

The memorials would typically be dedicated on or around Memorial Day in a formal ceremony arranged by the local chapter. My research shows that the ceremonies would be "moving", which means that the attendees would walk from one WOW member's grave to the next, dedicating each memorial by singing hymns and laying flowers at the grave site.
 As you look through the photos that I have posted, you will notice that the emblems, although they appear similar, are often not identical. The reason for this is unclear. Based on my research I am unable to determine if it is due to the fact that the monument builder of choice made the monument and thus interpreted the emblem differently, or if it is because various symbols contained within the emblem applied only to specific members. Whatever the case may be, the emblem does contain some very unique symbols. The symbols often include a sawed off tree stump with what appear to be crossed axes, ivy leaves of some sort and a dove. You may also notice the following words: "DUM TACET CLAMAT" , or "Though silent, he speaks".

It is difficult to find any information regarding the meaning of the symbols that are included in the emblem and I was unable to discover any information on them. What I was able to discover, however, is that the Modern Woodmen of America, a fraternal group that broke away from the Woodmen of the World around 1890, is that the founder, by the last name of Root, was intrigued when he learned of "pioneer woodsmen clearing away the forest to provide for their families". He developed his new group with the idea of "clearing away problems of financial security for its members". With that being said, one may assume the following symbolic meanings:
  • The dove is an international symbol of peace.
  • The roots on the tree might represent a strong family foundation.
  • The tree is sawn off to represent leadership within the family to "clear the way"
  • The axes represent strength
Of course the aforementioned is just my guess at the symbolic meaning and is not stated with certainty.

I hope this information was interesting to you and provided some insight about these unique tree stump memorials!  To get more information about creating a memorial for yourself or a loved one check out our website or drop by the store and visit with us. We have a whole library of emblems, symbols and designs to choose from and are also gifted at helping families create memorials that are interesting and unique.