For the third consecutive year Chambers and James Funeral Homes have received the National Funeral Directors Association’s Pursuit of Excellence Award.

Eric Fithyan, owner, said it’s actually an international award because the association represents more than 10,000 funeral homes in the U.S. and 39 countries around the world.

Operating in Wellsburg and Follansbee, Chambers and James Funeral Homes is one of 165 member funeral homes to receive the honor. All were recognized in the November issue of The Director, the NFDA’s trade publication, and invited to accept the award at the organization’s national convention held in Boston in October.

To receive the award, a funeral home must demonstrate proficiency in key areas of funeral service, such as compliance with state and federal regulations; ongoing education and professional development opportunities for staff; outstanding programs and resources to bereaved families; active involvement in the community; active participation in the funeral service profession; and the promotion of funeral home services through a variety of marketing, advertising and public relations programs.

Participants also are required to adhere to a pledge of ethical practices.

Christine Pepper, the organization’s chief executive officer, said, “Chambers and James’ voluntary participation in the Pursuit of Excellence Award program reflects a clear determination to exceed the expectations of those they serve. This prestigious recognition assures families of the high quality, compassionate service they will receive the moment they walk through the funeral homes’ front doors.”

Fithyan said, “Chambers and James Funeral, Pet and Cremation Services is honored to be selected three years in a row for this elite group of funeral homes. Every day we pursue excellence for the families that put trust in us. We know they need to be reassured we aren’t just another funeral home but we are on top of the industry.”

Chambers and James also was named a finalist for the organization’s Best of the Best and one of the top five with the “most novel and innovative programming.” That distinction refers to community efforts undertaken by Fithyan and his staff, such as regular services for the proper disposal of damaged U.S. flags held with the help of local veterans groups; a walk commemorating the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, and involving area first responders and residents; and a yearly collection of sweaters and other items for veterans in nursing homes.

This year area residents brought 322 sweaters, gloves and scarves to the two nursing homes.

Fithyan said the clothing will be given to veterans in local nursing homes and to the Wheeling Vet Center for distribution to a shelter for homeless veterans.

He added the funeral homes again are participating in Wreaths Across America, which supplies wreaths for veterans’ graves.

The wreaths may be ordered for $15 each and for every two purchased, one will be donated for one of the graves of veterans buried at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville, Pa. It is one of 135 cemeteries for deceased members of the Armed Forces operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The wreaths are expected to arrive in mid-December, and a wreath laying service will be held at noon on Saturday at the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Park at Brooke Hills Park.

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