Memorial Planning Associates

by Terry Watson | July 11th, 2013
Gloria Alston

Gloria Alston (Photo by Mykel Media)

Memorial Planning Associates, LLC is an event planning company that specializes in memorial service planning. Clients utilize them to plan memorial service, celebration of life and remembrance gathering or even a party in lieu of a traditional funeral. The company focuses on coordination activities, “like a wedding planner, but in the funeral industry”.

The company was founded in 2011 by Gloria Alston after her husband Darryl died. He had no life insurance and financial resources were somewhat of an issue, but Alston relied on her skills of project management to plan her husband’s program with the help of friends. While planning the service, she contacted a local funeral home to determine pricing for a funeral car to transport them to and from the church and back; the quote she was given was $700. Alston says she was shocked at the cost of services she needed to plan such a simple event. “I only needed someone to drive, line up and conduct the procession, and I felt they were taking advantage of the situation,” she says. Thankfully, common sense prevailed, and she hired an independent limousine driver, and decided on a line up and eventual order for the service.

The service was held at a church where she worshipped. She was allowed to use the sanctuary, but it didn’t have a hospitality committee. Alston says the church was not able to offer guidance with the memorial service because none had ever been held there before, nor did it offer a place to hold a reception or repast. Because of this, Alston decided to host her family and friends at her home and called on friends who had catering, food preparation, and lawn care experiences to help implement her plan. She received great feedback from several family and friends on how well the services were planned and conducted. Soon after, a friend of her family called for help with writing the obituary of her mother, who was near death. That meeting Alston says, proved to be pivotal. “I was honored that someone would seek out my services to help them and asked me to pray with her mother and the family. I knew then that my purpose and ministry were realized,” Alston said.

Alston is a mother of two teenagers. She returned to Guilford County in 2006 with her family, after having lived in the Washington, D.C. metro area for 18 years. She is a graduate of James B. Dudley High School and attended North Carolina A&T State University. After high school and throughout her years at NC A&T, she worked for IBM, where she met her late husband Darryl T. Alston.

She says one of her goals is to service her clients with excellence, while considering the most economical way to support the customer. “I don’t want to make anyone feel that they have not received exceptional value for their money. A well planned and implemented service is our goal – and so is a good value for the consumer,” she says. Some of the services she provides is Obituary Writing, Program Design, Slideshow/DVD Tribute, Memorial Service Planning, Repast/Reception Coordination, and other support services.

“I love it when I help someone who had no idea where to start or how to plan a loving and memorable service. I also love that I am able to help them do this for a fraction of the normal industry costs,” says Alston. Even when a funeral is planned, she is able to provide a well-written, error free program — handling every aspect from information gathering to delivery of the final product to the church or funeral home. She is inspired by God and her children and believes her business is a gift and purpose that He revealed to her during a crucial phase in her life. She is also inspired by her clients to learn and share other ways to do her very best while easing the burden for them during a very difficult time

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