Scot Ward opened his own funeral service company eight years ago, and he had an unusual business plan. For every funeral he handled, he wanted to donate a percentage of the cost to a church of the family’s choice or to a nonprofit, in memory of the deceased person.
“When I first began in 2005, I went through four different banks and all of them saw that expense line first and they said, ‘I just don’t see how you could do that,’ and I had one take a chance on that and the others wished they had,” said Ward, owner of Scot Ward Funeral Services at Green Meadow Memorial Gardens in Conyers.
Ward’s business has now surpassed the $1 million dollar mark in donations through the Community Contribution Program.
“When I founded the company in February 2005, I had previously worked under Horis Ward Funeral Homes, which my family had sold to a corporate chain in 1993,” Ward explained.
“Through the corporation years, in working for them, I realized that I didn’t give to the community and the heritage I learned through my father and grandfather was to give back to the communities we serve.
“So in February 2005, I began Scot Ward and I created what I call our Community Contribution Program. When a family comes in and pays for their funeral bill, once it’s paid in full, I give 10 percent of the service charges back to the church of their choice or there are three charities that I choose.”
About 75 percent of the $1 million has gone to over 250 churches, mainly in Rockdale, Newton, Walton, Henry and DeKalb counties, Ward said.
The remainder has funded the A.R. “Gus” Barksdale Boys and Girls Club in Conyers; Lighthouse Village, which encompasses a transition program and housing for single mothers and their children, and a respite care center for people with intellectual disabilities; Rockdale Emergency Relief, a nonprofit which aids the low-income community with emergency funds, food, clothing and other resources; and the now-defunct Rockdale Medical Center Foundation.
Ward, who operates the business with his father, Richard Ward, also volunteers for the nonprofits he supports through his Community Contribution Program.
“I would just say that God has blessed me immeasurably and I’m giving back to Him,” Ward said.