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After being located for years in a shopping center, Emerald Coast Funeral Home held a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony December 10, 2016, marking the grand opening of its new 15,000-square foot facility at 161 Racetrack Road NW in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
"We held our final service at our old location last week and hosted two visitations in the new building, one on the Tuesday before and the other the evening after our ribbon-cutting ceremony," said James Bass, the firm's managing partner.
The new building offers convenience and ease of entry under a beautifully sculpted porte-cochere, with stacked stones complementing neutral stucco and expansive glass doors and sidelights. Stacked stone completes the impressive facade of the building, which is impressive but not intrusive.
Through the elegant front doors, visitors find themselves in an impressively large vestibule, opening into the chapel.
An ample parking lot is available for the convenience of those attending visitation and services in the 250-seat chapel, twice the number the firm's former chapel accommodated.
The spacious new funeral home - decorated in soft, warm hues, tastefully-appointed and furnished in neutral and natural tones - is as inviting as it is comfortable. Roomy visitation rooms outfitted with wide-screens to show memorial videos are complemented by a pavilion for receptions, seated meals or community events.
"We expect our funeral home to become a popular venue for meetings, conferences and other gatherings," Bass said. "As part of the community, a partner with our sister firm, McLaughlin Mortuary, and as community leaders, it helps us expand our outreach."
Emerald Coast Funeral Home & McLaughlin, which operates the only crematory in S. Okaloosa County, has a tradition of community outreach well beyond funeral, burial and cremation services.
For example, the staff hosts an annual "Christmas Memorial Legacy Candle" service, inviting families to honor their loved ones lost during the past year. This year, this service was held just three days after the new building opened.
The funeral home also co-sponsors a weekly grief support group with Emerald Coast Hospice and supports Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers Beal Veterans Memorial Tower and a number of other community activities. "We see ourselves as a community focal point," Bass emphasized. "The mentors I have been fortunate to have throughout my career all made outreach - beyond funeral service, cremation and burial - an important part of funeral service."
The firm's outreach is reflected in activities throughout the year as well as through social media. "We are a part of this region," on the Emerald Coast the funeral director said. "We're a part of the day-to-day life within our community." This attitude is supported not only by the testimonies of families Emerald Coast Funeral Home has served but also in the firm earning the continual annual designation as "The 2015 Finest Funeral Home and Crematory on the Emerald Coast," an award voted by the readers of the Northwest Florida Daily News. This is the fifth year in a row the funeral home has received the honor.
"It remains paramount that we as directors realize we have funerals every day and the families we serve do not," Bass said. "We take time to listen. We feel it is our responsibility to guide families, every step along life's most difficult journey."
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