The 24 Hour Association: Accurate Information Can Save Heartache
By Natalie Hardy
I was recently in a group gathering, and heard the remark… “and they do exactly the same thing for a whole lot less money.” I had heard this before in public and decided to investigate. “Are you talking about 24 Hours and their competition?” I asked. Yes, came the reply. “Why do you say they do exactly the same thing,” I asked. “Well, they say they do.” Ahhh, I thought…and why not? How carefully do people examine the small print, especially if they think they are saving money? And so this article comes about in an effort to clarify exactly what the 24 Hour Association does for its members and why it is unique in its offerings.
Who we are: We are a not-for-profit, prepaid burial and cremation service. Not for profit is an especially important distinction in terms of the services we offer, and what motivates us to do the work we do. Stack this against a for-profit enterprise, that can go around collecting your money long before they have to do anything at all for you, which then happens only at your death if at all, and if they are still in existence at that time. 24 Hours will celebrate its 50th, yes, 50th! Anniversary in 2015. This is a record, which speaks for itself. Dedicated volunteers make sure this service is available to those who want to become members. Some of our members became so, decades ago, and as often happens in San Miguel, they live long lives. So we have members from 10, 20, 30 years ago. Some members have a change of plan…they return to family in the States. They go elsewhere. 24 Hours gives them their money back. We are not for profit. We do not keep your money if your plans change.
What services do we offer: 24 Hours has the unique situation of a beautiful tract of land in the Pantheon, the cemetery just down from the Real de Minas Hotel parking lot, behind Ancha de San Antonio. It is worth a visit. It is a tranquil fenced area with dozens of San Miguel’s prominent, and not as prominent former residents, who wanted their remains to stay in the city they loved. The location is walking distance from Centro, and quite an inspiring experience. All the headstones on the graves are identical white and simple. The niches all have similar plaques imprinted with the pertinent information of the deceased. We offer cremation with or without a niche, and we offer burial in a crypt or a grave. Without a niche cremation means you can take the loved one’s ashes and have them spread where desired, in the Charco, or on the water, or to a favorite place back home.
Important distinctions from other available services: The 24 Hour Association is the only entity in San Miguel which can register a death and obtain a death certificate without the involvement of a family member. This is because our Executive Secretary, Linda Cooper, has special legal dispensation to act on behalf of the family in this not-for-profit organization. All other competing services require the participation of a family member. That gets a bit awkward when no other family members live here, or particularly want to be here in this circumstance, or cannot get away quickly.
The other “small print” issue, which prospective participants of a prepaid plan for cremation or burial need scrutinize, if they want to “stay” here in San Miguel, is the issue of perpetuity of care of the grounds where interred. Since the panteón land is part of the 24 Hour Association, the members incur no further concerns or expense. You pay one time only for the rest of your care. The care is perpetual, at no extra cost, to the family of the deceased. This is in stark contrast to all the other cemeteries in San Miguel, which impose a charge every five years or so to keep the remains where they are. Saving a few dollars up front with other services may or may not be the actual case in the long run. For more information or clarification, please contact the Executive Secretary, Linda Cooper, at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone her at 185-2023 or look up our website at: www.24assoc.com In so doing, you will put your mind at ease on many issues.
Natalie Hardy has been a 24 Hour board member for 10 years. She is current vice president and public relations director of the association. Her gratitude exceeds what she can give to the association. Her husband died 10 years ago, and she speaks from first- hand experience.