Losing a child is a tragedy no parent should ever have to endure. While there are few words and even fewer comforts to be offered to those who have experienced such a loss, the team at The Compassionate Friends is doing its best to be there in the face of the unthinkable.
Sandra Harrison experienced such a loss on her wedding anniversary when her son, 26-year-old Cory Trevor Harrison, was fatally hit by a drunk driver. Though she wasn’t alone in her grief, Sandra realized that facing such a tragedy requires a community. It wasn’t until after the loss of Cory that she found The Compassionate Friends, a foundation that offers a sense of togetherness and self-help options for grieving families in need.
Since discovering the group, Sandra found a partnership and a focused purpose, within her community, all driven by The Compassionate Friends’ cause. While The Compassionate Friends, open to anyone who has lost a child, grandchild or sibling, offers self-help options to everyone near and far, it takes enough interest in one location to build a local chapter.
After three separate families contacted the organization, the Bay County, Florida chapter was founded in January 2015. Since then, the group meets every second Monday of each month. With the current pandemic, the chapter meets on a scheduled Zoom call.
The mother and grandmother will be stepping in as chapter leader of her local group in July. In the meantime, she’s shifted her focus to a memorial garden to honor her son and other children lost. With the help of local government and the other members of her chapter, including the current chapter leader, Carol Ladouceur, Sandra and other chapter members are now building the Children’s Memorial Garden.
“I don’t like going to my son’s grave,” she says. “I want to go where it’s uplifting.”
Sandra wants to help offer her community a comforting and peaceful place to go where they can honor their loved ones without the negative connotations of a graveyard. Rather than feeling surrounded by death, Sandra and her community’s organization wants to offer a place that can be a celebration of life for her lost son and the lost family members of her community.
Their bid for the garden was enthusiastically backed by local city commissioners of Lynn Haven, Florida, and other chapter members. Some families went together on benches for their loved ones, while others opted to sponsor trees, bushes and other greenery to adorn the garden. There will be cenotaph walls that will be covered in bronze plaques – a place where anyone who has lost a child, grandchild or sibling can pay to have them memorialized.
As a non-profit, the Bay County chapter had to be clever about how to go about the creation of their garden. Purchases of plaques and charitable donations go directly to the creation and upkeep of their garden. There will be a fountain for the garden, offering an added level of tranquility for those who come to honor their lost loved ones.
The Children’s Memorial Garden was set to be completed in June 2020 with a dedication. A Walk to Remember was scheduled for May 30, 2020. Anyone can donate directly via Venmo*. Sandra has devoted a large amount of her time to the project, and looks forward to seeing the garden and fountain completed. She noted that the setting – about 1000 feet from North Bay – couldn’t be any better, and hopes that others will find it as peaceful as she does.
After being founded in England over 50 years ago, The Compassionate Friends has since expanded operations in the United States. The group works in chapters, and as of today has over 600 chapters in all 50 states, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico and Guam. The Compassionate Friends’ mission statement states that “when a child dies, at any age, the family suffers intense pain and may feel hopeless and isolated. The Compassionate Friends provides highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family.”
Sandra Harrison and her Bay County chapter are living up to that mission in spades with their current project. No one ever wants to experience loss, particularly that of a child, but the love of a supportive group and community, such as Sandra’s, proves that love can sometimes mitigate grief and shore the bereaved up when the unthinkable happens.
*To donate to the Children’s Memorial Garden, search for “Children’s Memorial Garden” on the Venmo app. Donations can be made there.
Notarization (RON) is a new form of notarization permitted in Florida as of
January 1, 2020.
notary laws required that the person signing certain legal documents and
persons signing as witnesses be in the same room, that is, physically present
with each another.
Florida’s new RON law
allows persons to be physically outside the presence of the Florida online
notary as long as the notary is located in Florida and all parties can see,
hear and communicate with each other via acceptable audio-video technology.
notarizations are still by far the norm, we will continue to see RON’s growth
and use as the real estate industry increasingly moves to electronic and
Moreover, in light of
the COVID-19 pandemic, RON will increasingly become a logical alternative and
preference as parties to a transaction do not have to be in others’ physical
It is important to
remember that a “traditional” Florida notary cannot simply begin acting as a
Florida online notary. Before acting as a Florida online notary, the notary
must be successfully registered as an online notary with the Florida Department
of State. This registration requires completion of a two-hour course, having certain
insurance policies in place, and selection of a “RON service provider” (the
technology company that provides the platform for the audio-video technology
and other required obligations such as an electronic journal).
The current major
impediment to RON is its slow acceptance by large institutional banks and
lenders. Other more “technology-minded” lenders are adopting RON at a faster
Despite the slow
acceptance by the lending industry, RON will be an important part of the
ongoing shift to handling real estate closings online digitally and
electronically. Once fully implemented, these practices will save agents time
and costs and be more convenient for all parties to a real estate transaction.
Congratulations to Tim Tillman, Kim Bergner and Heather Huff on their new positions.
LONGMONT, CO. – Alliant National Title Insurance Company (Alliant National) recently announced the appointments of three employees.
Tim Tillman, Alliant National’s new Florida Production Manager
ago this month, Tim Tillman joined Alliant National as vice president,
Tallahassee and Northwest Florida agency manager, where he was responsible for
building Alliant National’s footprint in Northwest Florida and the Tallahassee
area. Tillman has since been promoted to Florida Production Manager.
his career as a courier and moved up the ladder to perform search, exam and
mapping with an independent agent in South Florida. Subsequently, he worked as senior
examiner and assistant manager for American Pioneer; he was also a senior examiner
for Attorneys Title Fund. Just prior to joining Alliant National, Tillman was
the operations manager and business center manager of Fidelity National Title
Group’ Tallahassee operation, where he managed the production and trained and
managed other personnel.
done an excellent job of growing Alliant National’s footprint in his area,
including managing examiners and our production system. He will continue to
reside in the Panhandle area while managing all of the company’s title
production staff and processes. “Joining the Alliant National Team presents me
with some new challenges and opportunities, and I’m really looking forward to
helping Alliant National’s independent agents serve their customers more fully
and stand out from the competition,” said Tillman, adding that throughout his
career, he’s “grateful to have had the opportunity to foster excellent business
relationships along some of the best beaches in the world and around the state
Kim Bergner, promoted to Quality Assurance Auditor of Alliant National
Alliant National Title
Insurance is thrilled to announce the promotion of Kim Bergner to quality assurance
Bergner, a Minnesota native
with more than three decades of experience in the title insurance industry, was
promoted earlier this year after eight years as agency coordinator of the
company. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Bergner holds a B.A. in
psychology and a minor in social psychology. It was her father, however, who
cemented her career path. “My dad became a realtor later in his life, and he
was instrumental in introducing me to the title insurance industry,” said
Bergner, who lived all over the Midwest before settling down in Longmont with
her husband Bruce, a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
“In my new job, I reconcile
accounts monthly for our Florida agents, and I expect to eventually complete
full agency reviews as I continue to gain more experience,” said Bergner,
adding that what excites her most about her new position is the “opportunity
to do something new and learn from highly experienced auditors.”
In her downtime, Bergner
dabbles in fabric arts and needlework, spends time with her children and
partakes in thoughtful discussions during her book club powwows. “I like to
sing, too, and while I haven’t pursued that passion for years, I do have an
extensive collection of music in my car that I’ll sing along to, sometimes with
the volume way up.”
Heather Huff, new Agency Support Manager of Alliant National
In order to keep up with company
growth and better serve our independent agents, Alliant National recently hired
Heather Huff to fill the newly created position of agency support manager.
Huff, who grew up on a small family farm in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, earned a B.A. from and an MBA from King University. In 2012, she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where she landed her first job in the title insurance industry as a title abstractor for a national company headquartered in Charlotte. Soon thereafter, she began working for a national underwriter, originally doing sales support and operations before working directly with agents in the field as an agency representative for three years.
“I’m excited about this new
role at Alliant National Title because I’ll l be able to blend all of my past
experiences as we continue to mold this new position within the company,” said
Huff, who’s responsible for managing the new agent application and on-boarding
processes, reporting agency productivity numbers and managing the national
operations center. “My goal is to assist in implementing efficient and
streamlined processes while providing excellent service to our field staff and
our independent agent partners,” she added.
Outside of work, Huff enjoys traveling domestically and
abroad, music, volleyball, yoga, hiking and hanging out with her dog Teddy.
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About Alliant National Title Insurance Company
The Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agent® Alliant National believes in putting other people first. The company protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance and partners with 500+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 24 states and the District of Columbia.
Alliant National is the largest title insurance underwriter
in the country with no direct operations to compete against its agents and puts
the interests of its agents first. Bolstered by financial stability, strong
underwriting capability and independent agents’ in-depth knowledge of local
markets, the company has established a nationwide network with deep roots in
local communities and a wealth of expertise that is flexible, nuanced and continuously
growing. Visit alliantnational.com for
Dustin’s father, Tim Tillman, grew Alliant National’s footprint in North Florida over the past six years. When Tim decided to answer the call to use his exemplary title and management skills as the Florida Production Manager, an active search began for someone to fill the Agency Manager position in North Florida. Dustin rose to the top as an obvious choice.
Dustin has been with Alliant National for two years. He will work closely with Tim through the transition as he continues to cultivate Alliant National’s footprint
“Dustin has always been diligent, responsible and a hard worker; always with a sense of purpose and he has grown to be a man of great character.”
Answering Alliant National’s call to use title and management skills in the broader role of statewide Florida production manager.
Tim Tillman joined Alliant National six years ago as a vice president
for Tallahassee and Northwest Florida agency manager where he was responsible
for building Alliant National’s footprint.
As a testament to Tim’s hard work and dedication, he’s been
promoted to Florida production manager.
Tim began his career as a courier and moved up the ladder to
perform search, exam and mapping with an independent title agent in South
Florida. Subsequently, he worked as senior examiner and assistant manager for
American Pioneer. He was also a senior examiner for Attorneys Title Fund.
Just prior to joining Alliant National, Tim was the operations
manager and business center manager of Fidelity National Title Group’s
Tallahassee operation, where he managed the production and trained and managed
Tim has done an excellent job of growing our footprint in
his area, including managing examiners and our production system.
Now he’s agreed to answer our call to use his exemplary
title and management skills in the broader role of statewide Florida production
He will continue to reside in the Panhandle area while
managing all our title production staff and processes.
“Joining the Alliant National Team presents me with some new
challenges and opportunities, and I’m really looking forward to helping Alliant
National’s independent agents serve their customers more fully and stand out
from the competition,” Tim said, adding that throughout his career, he’s “grateful
to have had the opportunity to foster excellent business relationships along
some of the best beaches in the world and around the state capital.”
Tim’s mature, kind and experienced voice joins our statewide group of seasoned and compassionate searchers and examiners, all of whom pride themselves on delivering the best title products we can.