SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today Better Place Forests, the company that built America’s first conservation memorial forests, is announcing an initiative to support the nation’s fallen frontline heroes in the COVID-19 pandemic by offering up to $1 million worth of protected memorial trees. As the U.S. recognizes National Nurses Week (May 6-12), National Police Week (May 10-16) and Emergency Medical Services Week (May 17-23), the company is giving memorial trees at no charge to frontline workers who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice in the battle against COVID-19 this year. Named “Memorial Trees for Heroes”, this commitment aims to provide healthcare providers, hospital employees, caregivers and first responders the legacy they deserve for their sacrifice and to help ease financial burden on their families.
The unprecedented pandemic has forced the families of frontline workers to make critical end-of-life planning and financial decisions during an incredibly vulnerable period. Choosing a resting place for loved ones is even more challenging in a time of unprecedented crisis. Further, a traditional burial, plot, and headstone costs around $15,000*, a heavy load on a grieving family. The “Memorial Trees for Heroes” initiative gives frontline heroes a plan for a future ceremony in a serene resting place that includes a personalized memorial service and a legacy of conservation at no cost. The company is first offering memorial trees from its protected coastal Mendocino County forest, where families of fallen frontline workers across the country may enroll to reserve a tree.
“We want to do our part to recognize these brave men and women on the frontline against COVID-19 and give them the beautiful legacy they deserve,” said Sandy Gibson, co-founder and CEO of Better Place Forests. “As someone who has found peace in my visits to my parents’ graves from a young age, I want to provide these families and friends of fallen COVID-19 heroes with a peaceful, uplifting and beautiful place to visit their loved one without having to worry about financial burden. It may not take away their loss or grief, but I want to try to bring solace in any small way I can. I want them to know that their hero’s sacrifice is recognized.”
Frontline heroes risk their lives every day as they care for victims of this disease. They’ve separated themselves from their own families; some have traveled to areas highly impacted by COVID-19; some have even come out of retirement to help. As of April 23, over 21,800 U.S. healthcare personnel have contracted COVID-19.
Better Place Forests’ conservation memorial forests are the first sustainable alternative to cemeteries for people who choose cremation – where their final resting place is a private tree in a protected forest. Ashes are mixed with soil and placed beneath the tree, continuing the life cycle of the forest. A bronze, custom memorial marker, reminiscent of those used by the US Geological Survey (USGS) to mark important locations, is placed at the base of the tree.
For each tree reserved, Better Place Forests plants 25-400 Impact Trees in areas impacted by deforestation or forest fire through its partnership with One Tree Planted.
Reservations for a “Memorial Trees for Heroes” tree will begin immediately for the company’s Point Arena forest in Mendocino County, California., a forest that boasts the best of land and sea with beautiful ocean vistas and nationally recognized, award-winning design.
The timeline for memorial services in Point Arena is subject to shelter-in-place guidelines for the State of California, Mendocino County, and Better Place Forests. For those interested in reserving a “Memorial Trees for Heroes” tree, please go to www.betterplaceforests.com/heroes.
Quotes of support
"It has been inspiring to see the community surround us with so much support during such a trying time. It has inarguably been very hard for our team here at Elmhurst as we've watched this pandemic progress rapidly, but our patients motivate us to continue helping during those 12-plus hour days. Our jobs inherently come with risk. So when we learned of this generous offer from Better Place Forests, it reassured us that our families and loved ones are being thought of and taken care of in this way. I support their thoughtful offer, and we are thankful that Memorial Trees for Heroes will serve as a reminder of the meaningful work we do every day to help our patients." - Dr. Rachel Shively, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Elmhurst Hospital Center
"Those of us in the medical community are honored and driven to take care of patients and their families during this pandemic - but it doesn’t come without stress and risk. Although this has been an incredibly trying experience for all of us, the daily 7 p.m. cheers of thanks and comradery have been a special moment of joy. When it is all over and the cheering has come to a close, Better Place Forests' Memorial Trees for Heroes will forever be a poignant recognition of the lives of those who sacrificed everything for the patients they served. I know I am not alone in my appreciation for Better Place Forests' generous gift." - Dr. David Gutteridge, an attending ER physician on the frontlines in Brooklyn
“Better Place Forests wants to do its part for heroes’ grieving families, who must make critical and costly end-of-life decisions during an incredibly vulnerable period…We urge you to join us in supporting Better Place Forests to help honor those on the front lines during this time to have a beautiful final resting place where loved ones can gather, and a person’s memory can be honored and ensure their value lives on.” - New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus
"Thousands of frontline heroes put their lives on the line for us every day, regardless of the risk. This generous tribute and offer by Better Place Forests will provide families that are grieving the loss of a loved one some solace during this extremely difficult time. The Mendocino coast is a beautiful and tranquil place and I hope that will bring some peace to the families of these heroes." - Assemblyperson James Wood, Chair of California Assembly Health Committee
"From healthcare workers and first responders, to the men and women in the trades, we are all working to flatten the curve. We stand in solidarity with Better Place Forests’ recognition of these contributions and are proud to partner with them to reduce economic hardships on the families of our members who lost their lives to save the lives of others." - Cesar Lara, Executive Director, Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, and Manny Pinheiro, CEO, Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council.
*According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a funeral with viewing, vault and burial in 2019 was $9,135 per person. A headstone and plot can range from $1,700-$10,000, depending on location, according to Choice Mutual.
About Better Place Forests
At Better Place Forests, our mission is to inspire everyone to leave a meaningful legacy for the planet and the people they love. We are the end-of-life company that built America’s first conservation memorial forests –– beautiful, sustainable alternatives to cemeteries for people who choose cremation. We offer you an end-of-life experience that is uplifting, empowering and personal by enabling you to return your ashes to the earth, underneath a protected memorial tree. By creating beautiful memorial spaces that resonate with you and your loved ones, we establish, maintain and protect forestland for generations to come.
Awarded as one of Fast Company’s “World Changing Ideas” and “Most Innovative Companies” of 2020, Better Place Forests helps you write a better ending to your story and establish a lasting legacy while conserving some of the most iconic natural land in North America. For more information, visit www.betterplaceforests.com.