Fraternal organizations and secret societies may make you think about the DaVinci Code or the Knights of the Round Table (if not your alma mater). With this variety of memory, it’s possible that organizations, or brotherhoods, might exist for just as many reasons. Thus it is with the International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR).
OGR is a leading funeral association that serves the needs of independent funeral homes. They establish guidelines and standards that these funeral homes must adhere to as expressed in the Golden Rule credo, “Service measured not by gold, but by the Golden Rule.”
OGR is so sincere about its mission that it offers awards and scholarships to its membership. For instance, the The Awards of Excellence Scholarship Program provides scholarships to students based on strong academic performance, funeral service experience and the strength of their essay that exemplifies a commitment to serving grieving families with compassion, fairness and dignity. Applicants must be enrolled in a degree program at an accredited mortuary science school or college; be scheduled to graduate after Jan. 31; have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Other awards and scholarships reflect OGR members’ terms of commitment to their profession, their families and their communities. To help members achieve the highest awards, OGR offers vast resources to their members, including information on how to prevent mishaps and misunderstandings during a cremation or burial call, publications that offer advice on dealing with grieving family members and other products and services that help independent funeral homes run a smooth and efficient business.
Along these lines, the organization pushes the independent funeral home owner to remain “exceptional” in its services to the community. Annual conferences, educational forums, invitationals and audio seminars all are open to members for the exchange of ideas and innovations. Additionally, the organization has created many programs for the independent funeral home owner, including a program called, “Family Contact.”
This family connection program encourages the independent funeral home owner to contact family members after the funeral to find indications of success. Family feedback (including evaluations) then is shared with staff to help smooth out any problems and to encourage top-notch service.
OGR is divided into seven Districts, with each encompassing several states and/or provinces. A regional chairperson represents each state or province within a district and also assist with recruiting and retention efforts and onsite investigations of firms that apply for membership.
While an organization that consists solely of independent funeral homes may upset your equilibrium, remember that funeral homes are businesses, and independent business people need all the support and help they can muster. It might sooth you to think that these folks are open to innovation, including green funerals. The Green Burial Council works closely with this group as well as with other groups to help establish a standard for green funerals nationwide.
The next time you think of fraternal organizations, maybe you’ll be more open to the existance of one that consists of independent funeral homes. While this group may not seem ‘natural’ to you, think again. There’s nothing more natural than death.