A Summer 2020 | Volume 25 | Issue 3 YP Spotlight: Bettina Jose P.7 P.15 Digital Dialogue Series P.10 10 Reasons Online Reviews Are Key for Building Your Funeral Home’s Brand P.24 What COVID-19 Has Taught Us About Aftercare

A WONDERING WHAT YOUR NEST EGG IS WORTH? YOUR BUSINESS IS YOUR NEST EGG. BUT PEACE OF MIND COMES FROM KNOWING WHAT THAT NEST EGG IS WORTH. As a funeral professional, many of the services you provide your families are to protect their “peace of mind” during a difficult time. But what about your peace of mind? As a business owner you have questions about your financial future; often these questions relate to the value of your business. What is it worth, can family members or staff raise the money to buy the business, and if not, who else would be interested in my business? If you want to know what your business is worth, give us a call. 2 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 JohnsonConsulting.com Created for Partnership. Designed for Business Success. REACH OUT TO THE JCG EXPERTS TO LEARN MORE info@johnsonconsulting.com 480-556-8500

The Independent® | Summer 2020 | Volume 25 | Issue 3 Table of Contents 7 15 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 15 | 20 | 24 | 28 | President’s Message OGR New Board and Officers Digital Dialogue Series Virtual Grief Support Programs “Staying Connected” Campaign 10 Reasons Online Reviews are Key YP Spotlight: Bettina Jose The Invisible Front Lines COVID-19 and Aftercare APASI 30 | Member News 33 | In Memoriam 34 | Member Spotlight 37 | Above & Beyond 38 | Milestone Anniversaries www.ogr.org | The Independent® 3

The Independent® is a benefit of membership in the International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR), a not-for-profit organization tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, Federal ID No. 431828432. Published quarterly, The Independent® is mailed the first month of each new quarter. Send address changes to OGR, Attn: Mailing List, 3502 Woodview Trace, Ste. 300 Indianapolis, IN 46268. © 2020 International Order of the Golden Rule. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Non-member subscriptions (USD): One year: $40; two years: $60; single copy: $11.50. Founded in 1928, OGR is composed of independently owned and operated funeral homes located throughout North America and overseas. Editorial material and letters of opinion are invited. Published articles reflect the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the association. OGR reserves the right to edit all submitted materials and does not assume responsibility for unsolicited materials. For author guidelines, contact the editor, (800) 637-8030, or visit www.ogr.org. — BOARD of DIRECTORS — President President-Elect Secretary-Treasurer Immediate Past President Directors Mary Steele Evan J. Strong Paul Hummel, III Tom L. Hemmerle Kim Hunter Raffy Jose Chris Miller Peter A. Urban, Jr. Jamie Wieting — STAFF — Advertisers Index Access Financial Group.........................................................Back Cover Chris Chigas, (800) 487-8220, ext. 8233 cc@afinancial.com | www.afinancial.com Answering Service for Directors .........................................................23 Kevin Czachor, (800) 868-9950 sales@myasd.com | www.myasd.com Domanicare ......................................................................................18 Caden Rhoton caden@thedomanigroup.com | www.thedomanigroup.com The Foresight Companies ...................................................................19 Catherine Belliveau, (602) 274-6464 catherine@f4sight.com | www.f4sight.com.com Johnson Consulting Group ...........................................Inside Front Cover Marissa Morah mmorah@johnsonconsulting.com | www.johnsonconsulting.com Starmark...........................................................................................14 Arie Elder, (765) 966-7676 arie.elder@starmarkcp.com | www.starmarkcp.com Advertising is accepted at the discretion of the publisher. The advertisement of any product or service in The Independent® does not represent an endorsement of such product or service by OGR. Classified Advertising: line ads: $1.10 per word; display classified ads: $30 per col. inch. Call the communications department to reserve space or to request a rate card and mechanical specifications. OGR does not accept ads that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability, or any other federally protected class. Publisher International Order of the Golden Rule 3502 Woodview Trace, Ste. 300 Indianapolis, IN 46268 (800) 637-8030 Fax: (512) 334-5514 Email: info@ogr.org Website: www.ogr.org Interim Executive Director Membership Director Communications Director Education & Events Dir. Meetings & Mem. Coord. Communications Coord. Art Direction Mark McSweeney, CAE Nancy Weil Evan Hoffmeyer Emilie Perkins, CAE Alyssa Castille Adeline Border Michael Davisson The Independent® | Summer 2020 | Volume 25 | Issue 3 4 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020

President’s Message I want to begin by telling you that I am honored to serve as your president for 2020-2021. has been a It totally different experience than I had imagined with cancelling our Annual Convention and Solution Center. I was sworn into office at my home, with my family around me and on the Zoom meeting to watch. Hopefully, we will be able to resume our Annual Convention in 2021. While it wasn’t what anyone anticipated, it was an amazing experience. I’m sure as we all made our resolutions, goals and plans for the year not one of us would have thought a pandemic would almost bring the world to a halt. I know COVID-19 has certainly made a change in my world. In our area, we all scrambled quickly to keep up to date with the daily changes, just to find out the next day that we could no longer do what we were able to do the day before. We learned very quickly that we had to tell families right away that funerals had changed dramatically; that we would help them plan a funeral that meets their immediate needs, and could then help plan a memorial service in a few months when everything has settled down a bit. Families were overwhelmed with the changes and so were we. We did not have the words, “I’m sorry but we just cannot do that at this time” in our vocabulary. We had always said, “we will make it happen.” We learned how to do drive-through funerals and drive-in cemetery services all in quick order. I know when we can all get together again, we will all have our war stories to share and many of us will say, “I cannot believe we did this, but…”. I believe that most of us in funeral service have been very imaginative and active in providing the best possible service for each family we served during this www.ogr.org | The Independent® 5 time and I am so glad we have had the support from our OGR staff to keep us informed and right on time with all the changes we have and will continue to face. Thank you all for your commitment to serving those families you are honored to serve and to serve them with the highest levels of service available. As we progress forward to start opening our businesses back to our new normal level of serving, I know we will all still need to be ready to serve each family in new ways. I would also like to remind you that we have an awesome staff in Indianapolis, and they stand ready to assist all of us with any need we may have. I don’t know how many people were able to attend the Weekly Roundtables, but those I attended were great and provided help in solving some problems and ideas to share with families and others. OGR has some awesome programs in place and the new grief resources are wonderful. As I close, I just want you to know that I am available if you need to reach out to me. I would enjoy speaking with you and helping you in any way that I can. For dayto-day operation questions, please call the OGR office. We look forward to opportunities to talk with OGR members and answer as many questions as we can. Yours in service, Mary Flynn Steele

OGR Board OGR Installs New Board and Officers By Nancy Weil, OGR Member Resources Director Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the 2020-2021 OGR Board of Directors met virtually on April 21 by video conference for their quarterly board meeting and installed new board members and officers for the coming year. Mary Steele of Arnett & Steele Funeral Home in Pineville, KY was installed as OGR’s president. Tom Hemmerle of Barnett-Strother Funeral Home, Madisonville, KY transitioned to Immediate Past President, Evan Strong of Evan J. Strong Funeral Services in Calgary, AB as President-Elect and Paul Hummel, III of Hummel Funeral Home in Akron, OH as Secretary-Treasurer. solutions that will help their businesses and the families they serve post-COVID-19. Along with our members, we will rise beyond the pandemic and continue to set the standard for funeral service and charge forward to be the standard for the industry to follow.” “OGR is excited to have a board that covers so many geographical areas from coast to coast, from Canada to the US to the Philippines, from small towns to large cities,” said Interim Executive Director Mark McSweeney. “This diversity will provide unique insight and guidance to enhance OGR’s service to all of our members in the year ahead.” About 2020-2021 President May F. Steele The following members are returning to the Board: Raffy Jose of Arlington Memorial Chapels, Inc. in Quezon City, Manila, Philippines; Chris Miller of Thomas Miller Mortuary and Crematory in Corona, CA; Peter Urban, Jr. of Anton B. Urban Funeral Home in Ambler, PA; and Jamie Wieting of Wieting Family Funeral Home in Chilton, WI. Kim R. Hunter of Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel Ltd. in Toronto, ON, Canada was sworn in as first-time elected board member, serving a two-year term. After Mary was installed, she shared some of her plans for the Association as OGR President. “I’d first like to ensure we help our members come out of the Coronavirus pandemic successfully and help them thrive in their communities.” She continued, “Moving forward will continue to provide our members with 6 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 Mary F. Steele, CFSP, CPC, CCO is co-owner of Arnett & Steele Funeral Home in Pineville, KY. She has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer since 1991 and is both a graduate of nursing school and of Mid-America College of Funeral Service. Mary served as the first woman president of the Funeral Directors Association of Kentucky. Mrs. Steele brings a lot of experience to the Board having received numerous honors and awards including the NFDA Initiative Award (2007) and the OGR Community Service Award (2008). She also serves on the Advisory Board for Mid America College of Funeral Service, formerly served on the Southeast Community and Technical College Funeral School’s Advisory Board, and is a Certified Preplanning Consultant and Certified Crematory Operator. Mary has been married to Jay Steele since 1977 and they have a son; Jason (and Jessica), who works in the funeral home with her, and a daughter, Margaret, who is a Forensic Toxicologist with the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory in Baton Rouge, LA. Jay and Mary have granddaughters, Vian (16) and Nadine (14) and a 5-month-old grandson, Blaze, who keeps their lives active!

Digital Series A New Educational Series for You and Your Staff By Evan Hoffmeyer, OGR Communications Director The COVID-19 pandemic created a sudden shift in how funeral homes like yours serve families. Many traditional methods for hosting visitations and funerals were limited, but this limitation paved the way for innovation that could help us better serve families moving forward. In response to this, OGR has gathered some of the top industry thought leaders to offer concrete steps and new tools to help you lead your staff into this new future. From harnessing new technologies to serving families working through delayed grief, take advantage of this Digital Dialogue Series as a free member benefit and participate in four afternoons of learning, designed to improve your business and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Join industry thought leaders and fellow members for 8 hours of virtual education on July 28 & 30 and August 4 & 6 from 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. EDT. July 28 - Aug. 6, 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. EDT Members can attend all 8 hours FOR FREE If you need CE credit: • Members: $50/hour or $299 for all 8 • Non-Members: $75/hour or $399 for all 8 Learn more about each session and register at OGR.org/DDS www.ogr.org | The Independent® 7

Grief Support Hope After Heartache: 2 Virtual Grief Support Program Options Included with your OGR membership By Nancy Weil, OGR Member Resources Director Telephone Grief Support Group Offer your families access to a grief support group you don’t have to run. I am a Certified Grief Management Specialist with over 17 years experience running grief support programs. Let me become your grief support resource so you can do more for those you serve than just offering an expected, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Here’s how it works: • OGR offers a grief support group once a month on GoToMeeting, which families can access via video chat or audio only. • You will receive a templated outreach letter you can tailor for your funeral home and mail to every family you serve. • The letter contains simple participants to use each month. • Once a month, participants make the call, connect with others who are grieving - all under the guidance of a skilled facilitator offering participants specific tools to navigate the journey of grief Plus, you get even more resources to offer to your families: • A Brief Exploration of Grief booklet written by me that you can post on your website • Blogs and articles you can print, put in newsletters or post on your social media pages Voicemail Program A Virtual Hug allows friends and family to record a voice message of comfort along with a memory or two your bereaved families can listen to again and again. 8 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 instructions for While tribute walls on obituary pages and social media posts let families know they’re not alone in their time of grief, a voice recording goes the extra step to connect with those grieving and is accessible to people of all ages. By inviting others to leave messages of comfort in a voicemail box, your families will get something they will treasure over the weeks and months ahead. Each time they listen to a story being told, they will be connected to both the person who called as well as their loved one. The entire family can access these messages and will be able to download and keep their messages forever. It is simple to set up and simple for the family to use. You will receive: • Detailed instructions on how to set up each family’s individual voicemail box • A template form you can give to each family with information on how to use the system • Program logo • A press release to send out to local media alerting them to this new grief support option Here is what one OGR member had to say about offering a grief support program: “I never felt motivated about offering grief support, but Nancy’s passion and insight has made me realize that along with there being a need for grief support, it can be a great opportunity to connect with people in the community and essentially gain referrals.” Your families are counting on you to support them in their time of need, not just for a day or a week but for the duration of their grief journey. Get started by contacting Nancy at nweil@ogr.org or (512) 334-5504 ext. 304.

Marketing CampaignA “Stay Connected” New Marketing Campaign Now Available By Nancy Weil, OGR Member Resources Director Included with your OGR membership Reach out to your community with these messages designed to engage consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. With so much of the news being filled with what people “can’t do,” these messages are filled with what they “can do.” Best of all, you can let them know what you “are doing” to help the families you serve during this time. This program is designed to allow you to easily post messages to your social media accounts showing the resiliency of people to adapt to new safety restrictions while also reminding them of the importance of being #TogetherAgain. options such as webstreaming of services, drive-by visitations or spacing of chairs in your chapel. • Now more than ever…stay connected with those you love is the theme of nine social media memes. Each of these fun posts highlight the way normal activities such as family reunions, group fitness and play dates have changed under COVID-19. Optional: OGR can put your funeral home’s logo on each of these posts for a small fee. • Pre-Plan Today social posts focused on reasons to pre-arrange their funeral. • We Remember ads memorializing those who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new program is available as part of your membership at no charge. Optional: Have your funeral home’s logo placed on each social media meme for $50. To get started, visit https://www.ogr.org/stay-connected or contact Nancy Weil at (512) 334-5504 ext. 304. You will receive: • Why Funerals Matter More Than Ever Before is a piece designed to be used as a blog, press release or recorded for a television or radio spot. This message reminds people about the importance of funerals and allows your funeral home to highlight ways your funeral home is accommodating families with www.ogr.org | The Independent® 9

I n today’s online world, consumers rely on search results, social media and peer reviews to perform research and gather feedback on businesses they are considering visiting or products they’re thinking of purchasing. While it can be easy for a business to turn a blind eye on the reviews the company receives, simply ignoring those review sites can be damaging to a business’s bottom line. While this probably comes as no surprise, more than 90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. As they seek out peer reviews on brands or companies that they’re considering doing business with, they’re looking for specific things. Consumers actually look for negative reviews to discover authentic feedback from real customers. In addition to negative reviews, they want to see how a business handled that situation and responded to a negative experience. 10 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 The funeral profession is not immune from reviews and how they impact the firm’s online reputation. Managing your reputation has always been important and will become even more crucial in the coming years. Now is the time to become better equipped to handle the good and the bad of online reviews. Still not convinced or not sure where to start? Here are ten reasons online reviews are important and how they can impact your funeral home’s business. 1. Increase Calls One of the biggest reasons why online reviews are important is that ultimately positive reviews increase calls by giving families the objective information they need to make the decision to contact your funeral home – whether for pre-need or an at-need situation. People are always much more likely to use a company that has already been recommended by others.

10 Reasons Online Reviews Are Key for Building Your Funeral Home’s Brand by Joe Weigel ADOBE STOCK 2. Understand and Better Serve Your Families Online reviews can tell you whether you are doing a good job or conversely what you are doing wrong and need to address to improve your service to families. This allows you to better serve your families by quickly and efficiently resolving any issues they have, thereby creating a positive experience for the family that will only help your business in the future. 3. Improve Rankings Online reviews do more than just creating better relationships between your firm and your families, they work towards improving your website’s ranking on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo! and more. The more that is written about your funeral home online, the more important a search engine considers you to be! 4. Enhance Higher Keyword Content Online reviews help your funeral home’s website to have a steady influx of SEO keywords that can help your firm have a more prominent online presence for families. This is due to the fact that many of the keywords included in online reviews help to bring up your website in search results for families looking for a funeral home to contact. 5. Allow Families to Have a Voice and Create Loyalty Consumers who take the time to leave an online review for a business are far more likely to feel a certain loyalty to that business. Through the act of leaving an online review and establishing a relationship with the firm, it allows your families to feel like they have a voice and are able to provide feedback in a positive and meaningful way. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 11

Online Reviews A 6. Create Engagement Many times, online review pages can become active social communities where consumers leave reviews and keep coming back to see if others have made comments on their reviews or to simply see what other consumers have to say about the business in general. For funeral homes, this can create a social community of engagement that allows families to form an attachment to both the firm and the other families as well. 7. Allow Families to Do Your Marketing for You A handful of positive online business reviews is worth a great deal and can offer your funeral home benefits that a simple marketing campaign can’t. They are like micro marketing campaigns that keep working long after the online review has been posted, giving a constant positive image to potential families and creating a continual brand awareness that benefits the firm for the short term and for the long term. number of reviews appears to be enough to give folks the confidence to add their own views on that business. It is a new form of online ‘crowd behavior’ that psychologists are still working to figure out! 10. Help Attract Employees Thus far, I have concentrated on reviews as they relate to families. But what about your staff; how do your online reviews impact them? Having a professional, talented and loyal staff is crucial to any business’s success, but especially a company in funeral service. Individuals looking for a job will most likely research a company and its reputation on websites like Glassdoor before applying. Your own funeral home’s reputation not only influences families’ decisions but also your future or current employees’ actions. The funeral profession is not immune from reviews and how they impact the firm’s online reputation. 8. Provide Content for Future Marketing Efforts Instead of telling families your firm is great, have families that you have served speak for you, which is more effective in building trust. You can take advantage of positive online reviews and use them in a variety of ways to increase trust and boost conversions. For example, they can be posted on your website, be featured in a print ad or be shared on social media – once you have received their permission. 9. Generate More Reviews When a business, product or service has already received reviews online it seems to encourage others to leave their own feedback. Just the appearance of a 12 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 Businesses must always prioritize acquiring the best talent possible. After all, research has shown that a bad hire can cost at least 30% of the employee’s firstyear earnings, a costly mistake. And keeping good talent in this tight job market is crucial. If your reputation is stopping the best talent from applying to your business (and driving your best employees away), you might not even realize how your funeral home is suffering. Conclusion Most funeral homes think about online reviews and an online reputation strategy only when they find that their business has drastically dropped. They start to investigate the matter only when they find a drop in their calls. Regaining the momentum may not be easy when your business has reached such a stage. Implementing an online reputation management strategy in advance is the best thing to avoid such a negative situation. A good strategy will help build trust and credibility for your funeral home. As you are well aware, having the trust of your families is very important to the success of your funeral home. Knowing how your families and employees are talking about you is the first big step. Looking for ways to

Online ReviewsA improve your reputation is the next one. By ensuring your business has a reputation management strategy, you’re not only making sure your families love you, but also your current and future employees. And loyal employees are worth much more than their weight in gold. An online reputation management strategy can help mitigate the damage done to your brand by negative publicity to a certain extent. The more effective your online reputation strategy is the better for the growth of your funeral home. That is why you should implement an effective online reputation management strategy for your business without further delay. It can help to increase calls and take your funeral home to the next level. An effective online reputation management plan is ideal to maintain the good name of your firm in the long run. Now more than ever, it is vital to be aware of how your firm is perceived in the community. By watching how people talk and doing what you can to make things right, you can enjoy a better reputation online. Careful reputation management does not just help protect you from negative reviews. It can also improve your funeral home’s profile and help you continue to thrive. As Ben Franklin once said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Remember his words the next time you question the value of online reviews and an online reputation management strategy. Joe Weigel is the owner of Weigel Strategic Marketing, a communications firm focused on the funeral profession that delivers expertise across three marketing disciplines: public relations, branding, and communications. Visit his website at weigelstrategicmarketing.webs.com. He also can be reached at weigelstrategicmarketing@gmail. com. It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it. -Benjamin Franklin www.ogr.org | The Independent® 13

A Something missing... or is it? Preview TM Solid Wood Alternative Container Viewer Compatible with Preview Rental Insert Start-up kit $870 delivered Includes 6 Preview Rental Inserts Preview Rental Inserts: 12 at $77 Each Delivered Canyon Brown Natural Insert rollers Call (888)366-7335 to Order Visit www.starmarkcp.com for other products MADE IN USA Copyright © 2018 Starmark Cremation Products. All rights reserved. 14 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 Specific portions of Starmark products may be covered by one or more of the following US patents 9,649,241 9,649,240 9,597,248 9,539,161 9,427,369 9,248,069 9,089,467 9,050,234 8,959,732 8,607,423 8,595,908 8,418,329 8,375,535 8,104,151 7,213,311 7,204,003 7,249,402 7,249,403 7,234,211 7,263,751. Additional US Patents Pending PREVUE-NOMIS-DEC2018

YP Spotlight Young Professional Interview: Bettina V. Jose My dad would take me to school in the morning before heading to the office. It gave us that time to often exchange ideas about the business. While I loved the morning banter, I honestly felt it was also the perfect opportunity to bounce off ideas with a “mentor” and in a way, sharpen the business tools I was learning in school. It wasn’t long before I developed a keen interest (and passion for) the industry. I knew I would have to hone and develop the skills needed. I was also aware that expectations would be higher. And I certainly did not want to disappoint. I wanted to come in prepared and be truly deserving of the spot I would be given. I decided to gain corporate experience for two years before entering the company. This ended up working in my favor as I was able to bring a lot of the discipline and the experience from my previous job to Arlington. Bettina V. Jose is a 26-year-old sales and marketing manager at Arlington Memorial Chapels and Crematory in the Philippines. Why did you begin working in funeral service? I am a third generation Jose–I belong to a family that has been in the death-care industry for over 37 years. My father Raffy, who is the president and CEO of Arlington Memorial Chapels, has always been a personal hero of mine. We have always had a special relationship, many often referring to me as his “mini-me”, or Raffy Jr. I began taking interest in the business during college. How many years have you worked in funeral service? I have worked at the funeral home for one year now. What is the most rewarding part of your occupation? I’ve always been an empath—I’ve always had the capacity to feel deeply. This proved to be a challenge when I first began my work with Arlington. Every time I met with a client-family, I would feel as if they were taking a piece of my heart. Eventually, this also became www.ogr.org | The Independent® 15

YP Spotlight the most rewarding part of the job. It was the friendships formed through my work and the peace I gained each time I would be able to seemingly lessen the pain and burden of those left behind by serving them to the best of my abilities. Apart from this, I think that it’s also been very rewarding to be given the trust and opportunity to take on a lot of new projects that help the company continue to grow and innovate. I truly appreciate the freedom and leeway I’m given to explore how the old can meet the new. What are your professional goals? Ultimately, it’s my dream to see the company expand. I’ve personally seen how Arlington’s brand of service has managed to leave a positive and lasting impact on its client-families. It would be great to see this level of service be offered to more of our fellow Filipinos. I also graduated from a tech-management course, which encourages me to see how I can further our business with the upwards trend of e-commerce. What are you proud of that you have achieved so far during your career in funeral service? While I haven’t been working for the company for long, I joined at a time where the industry was immensely affected during the first few weeks of the pandemic—I was overwhelmed with the number of cases that were coming in on a daily basis. One of the things that pained me the most as a death-care practitioner was seeing how families were not given any closure in the occurrence of a death. All families had were body bags and identification tags. There were no ceremonies, tributes and the like – all of which I felt were integral to the grieving process. I saw how difficult and painful it was for a grieving family to not be able to say goodbye to their loved one properly. My frustration over the situation fueled a desire to find ways to provide comfort during such an uncertain and anxiety-filled time in their lives. I decided to launch Arlington’s first ever umbrella of digital services. These services included online tribute pages, curated Spotify playlists that included the favorite music and artists of their loved one, Zoom links good for nine days where family and 16 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 Bettina with her father Raffy Jose, the president and CEO of Arlington Memorial Chapels. friends could come together to pray, share their stories and find comfort in their support systems, albeit only virtually, without having to worry about a time limit. I was particularly proud of this because I saw how it offered a measure of comfort to the family members who never got the last hug and the last goodbye that everybody deserves. What are some important/notable trends that you have noticed in funeral service? We’ve seen a clear spike in families opting for cremation, most especially when COVID-19 hit. I’ve also seen that as the decision makers become younger and younger, it’s become imperative to begin catering to their manner of doing business. This includes considering their preference for the use of technology to make the process more expedient/convenient.

YP Spotlight How has your funeral home been impacted by COVID-19? Like many other funeral homes in other parts of the globe that got overwhelmed with the mass fatalities, there was also a point where we felt anxious and unsure—we asked ourselves if we would be able to keep up and take care of all these families coming into our facility. This also meant that we had to quickly equip our staff with the appropriate protective gear, the supply of which became increasingly scarce as the days went by. As the situation evolved, we also had to continue adjusting our safety protocols to make sure that our employees would not be unnecessarily exposed to the disease. It was also important to us that we maintained our unique brand of service despite the many limitations that COVID-19 came with. It was difficult to do this when communities weren’t allowed to gather and celebrate the life of their loved one – it became increasingly difficult to tell the families that their way of mourning would now be limited because of this pandemic. Apart from this, our Arlington family was our main priority. We wanted to make sure that they had the support they needed to continue fulfilling their duties as death-care practitioners. We decided to book rooms for our staff-members in a hotel near our facility for their comfort and convenience. How do you spend your time outside of work? Is there anything in particular that you enjoy doing? I try to balance my time between work, my loved ones and being a champion for mental health. In 2018, I founded my own non-profit organization called Spring Philippines. Spring aims to create a safe space where mental health is no longer misunderstood or mistreated. So if I’m not at the office doing overtime, you’ll find me doing school and company tours, giving talks which I hope will normalize the conversation about mental health in the Philippines. Who or what inspires you? My parents have always been my standard of how one should live. They always strived to make this world a better place for everyone that they encountered. This has become my life’s mission as well – to do everything I possibly can to leave this world a better place. What is your favorite phone app? Instagram – I just love how dynamic this application has become. You can pretty much do everything on this application. Catch up with friends, online shop or even escape reality hahaha. What is one thing that you believe your peers would be surprised to know about you? Despite my knack for public speaking, I am 86% introverted on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I would choose to stay at home any day. Well, maybe not so much now because that’s all I’ve been doing for the past two months! Hahaha What is one thing that you think is just “golden” — really wonderful, exciting? Discovering really good music without even trying. I think that the power of music is so underrated. What do you value most about OGR? I feel really blessed to know that there is a community that will support me and the company I belong to, in whatever way they can. When you belong to an industry like ours, it’s very easy to feel isolated and to feel like nobody will understand what you’re going through – it’s very comforting for me to know that with OGR, we are not alone. The organization as a whole tries to “follow the Golden Rule.” What other words do you try to live by? Someone once told me that hard work means nothing without passion. While I’ve used that as a guide for all my endeavors, I realized that the piece of advice that should have been given to me was that hard work means nothing without compassion. I think that in everything I do, I have found that I find more fulfillment when I know what it means to me, but more so when I know it could mean something to somebody else. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 17

Aftercare with impact. 97% 4.8 of Domani -partnered funeral homes are ranked #1 in thei r market on Google Domani -partnered funeral homes have an average rating of 4.8 stars on Google 25.4 the average Domani - partnered funeral home has 25.4 5-star reviews on Google thedomanigroup.com www.ogr.org | The Independent® 18

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“Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the funeral home is at capacity and is unable to handle any new calls at this time.” T he words felt hollow and wrong as they left my lips, even after having to repeat them over and over again throughout the day. No matter how much I softened my tone, there was no easy way to share this information. I struggled to adjust to the incongruity between my instincts to provide reassurance against the devastating reality I needed to communicate to these already broken family members. For 16 years I have answered calls for funeral homes, but I have never imagined a day might come when I might have to tell grieving family members that a funeral home can’t serve them. Looking back now more than a month later, I still tear up when I think about answering calls during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. I can still hear the reactions of grieving family members from me telling them that I cannot help them. While some would respond with an onslaught of questions I was unable to answer, others would react with a sigh of resignation. It wasn’t hard to tell they had been trying for some time to find someone 20 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 to take care of their loved one without any success. I think about these families often and the immeasurable weight of their grief. Losing someone you love is the most difficult thing we must endure, and to have that pain multiplied by the COVID-19 pandemic is truly heartache on another level. ASD answers calls for funeral homes across the nation, but during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic our answering service handled an influx of calls from New York City and other hot spots that were at the epicenter of the virus. Day after day, my heart ached for the grieving family members forced to call multiple funeral homes, the hospital or nursing home staff who couldn’t find anyone to pick up a body, and our clients, the funeral directors, who were completely overwhelmed. Many worked around the clock, sleeping in their cars— if at all, in an effort to respond to the non-stop incursion of death calls. When you think about being on the “front lines”, one usually envisions those who are physically responding to the pandemic, but there was also an invisible front line handling the emotional fallout caused by COVID-19. For ASD Call Specialists, the month of April was extremely difficult. For a period of time, ASD

The Invisible Front Lines A The Invisible Front Lines by Jessica Farren was handling 1,000 more death calls per day than our typical average. The most challenging task for most of us was adjusting our normal reflexes to console grieving callers with the fact that we could not give any false assurances or make any promises on behalf of the funeral home. This pandemic has proven to be a trying time for all of us answering calls for funeral homes at ASD. Our staff was forced to adapt to this extraordinary event in ways we never could have imagined. One call specialist described the difficulty of handling a call for a young woman who lost both her parents and her brother to COVID-19 within 24 hours. Another recalled having to take “sobbing breaks” between calls because of how much they affected her emotionally. While our staff are accustomed to helping families who have lost a loved one on a regular basis, the magnitude of tragedy created by COVID-19 has been truly unfathomable. For those who do not work in the funeral profession or do not live in a highly impacted area, it may be difficult to fully understand the trail of devastation this virus leaves behind in its wake. For all of us here at ASD, that reality is painfully clear. In many articles profiling funeral homes in hot spots like the Bronx and Brooklyn, directors shared openly how difficult it was for them to turn away a family in need. This was the first time in over 100 years our society had to grapple with issues like a lack of space to store bodies. This is the first time a surge in deaths caused monthlong delays at cemeteries and crematories. This is the first time funeral directors were ever forced to say to a family, “We are unable to serve you right now.” ASD call specialists are right there with our clients because we are often the ones communicating this information on their behalf, listening to the desperation of families who were trying to ensure their loved one was not left in a nursing home or taken to a place like Hart Island. We heard and felt firsthand the devastating emotional toll this virus took on bereaved families. Like our clients, we have struggled to cope with the fact that we are sometimes unable to provide comfort and reassurance in the same manner we normally can. The words we were so accustomed to using when responding to someone distraught are not available to us. All we could do during the height of the pandemic was try our best to convey with our tone and our condolences how www.ogr.org | The Independent® 21

The Invisible Front Lines deeply sorry we were for the unimaginable pain this virus unfairly inflicted upon them. As we move further away from those difficult weeks during the peak of the pandemic, the memory of it still remains etched in our hearts. Many articles and editorials have examined how, because so many of the deaths occurred out-of-sight, our nation has failed to observe the collective grief and national mourning associated with mass casualty events. For many, the lives lost have become just numbers, void of meaning, and the enormity of the pandemic death toll has not resonated. This is exacerbated by the fact that we cannot gather together to mourn our losses, so we are not seeing displays of shared grief or the outpouring of support. While the reality may not have set in for many, those of us who have actually talked to these grieving families “While our staff are accustomed to helping families who have lost a loved one on a regular basis, the magnitude of tragedy created by COVID-19 has been truly unfathomable .” feel a weight of responsibility to remind others what has been lost. For us here at ASD, we will always remember. It is my belief that it is essential for us all to acknowledge and grieve these losses. I know there are a lot of debates going on in our country centered around this pandemic. However, I do not believe remembering those we have lost to COVID-19 in any way requires one to take a side in the culture wars that are happening right now. We can grieve the human toll of this virus and lament the economic consequences of the pandemic as well. Acknowledging one does not subtract from the other. This notion that you must choose is utterly absurd to me. Denying the loss of life caused by COVID-19 or minimizing the tragedy is disrespectful and hurtful to those families who have already endured so much. 22 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 When I think about how difficult this experience has been for all of us at ASD and how I still find myself crying when thinking about those families, I often consider what it must be like for those funeral directors who lived through it as well. We must take a moment to consider the longtime psychological impact this will have on those in our profession. It seems certain to me that a good percentage of funeral professionals who were on the front lines of this pandemic will suffer from PTSD after the horrors they have witnessed. The experience of having to go into a crowded trailer filled with bodies to locate a deceased person, of having to carry out your job duties while fearing for your own safety, of having to refuse families you want to help…how do you reconcile such memories? I feel it is imperative in the days ahead for our professional community to support these last responders in any way we can. What they have endured is truly unimaginable and yet they never stopped working despite being traumatized day after day. I would also argue that the past few months have been incredibly distressing for even those funeral professionals who were not located in hot spots. When your life’s calling is to provide comfort to those who are hurting and your work is centered around providing meaningful funeral experiences for grieving families, not being able to fulfill soul crushing. You can feel this when you read the quotes from funeral directors all across the country in articles and news reports. The COVID-19 restrictions forced just about every funeral director in America to abandon their personal philosophies and ignore their natural instincts. Not being able to embrace or shake hands with families… having to police gatherings to ensure social distancing is being observed…limiting the number of people who can attend services, all of these actions would have been unthinkable to funeral directors only a few months ago. Having to adapt to these unique circumstances on both a personal and professional level has undoubtedly caused funeral directors a great deal of stress and anguish. Despite this, so many have responded in unbelievably creative and inspiring ways. From holding drivethrough visitations to adopting new technology in order those duties is absolutely

The Invisible Front Lines to provide live streamed services, the dedication of funeral directors has truly been a remarkable thing to witness. I believe the memory of how those funeral directors went the extra mile to do all they could to help families during this pandemic should be celebrated and honored in the years to come. Once things have returned to normal, there will likely be many lessons that can be learned from this period in history. We expect many of the routines and procedures funeral professionals used previously will be reevaluated. For us here at ASD, we plan to explore different solutions we can implement to provide added assistance to our clients during times when they need us the most. We pray we will not see a pandemic like this anytime again in the future, but preparing in advance for such an event will only make us all stronger going forward. Jessica Farren (Fowler) is the Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer at ASD – Answering Service for Directors where she has answered the calls of funeral homes nationwide for more than 16 years. Jessica manages ASD’s blog and social media presence and has also contributed articles on a variety of subjects to funeral trade publications. A www.ogr.org | The Independent® 23

What COVID-19 Has Taught Us About Aftercare by Jon Lefrandt T here is no question that COVID-19 has forever changed our lives. Furthermore, profession has materially changed. the funeral In this article, I’ll discuss the need for aftercare both in general and specific to this pandemic, and some lessons we’ve learned as a tech company serving funeral homes and the funeral profession during this time. Why aftercare? I often get asked this question: “Why aftercare?” Sometimes it is asked by friends and family wondering how I got my start in the funeral profession. Other times, by funeral home owners and funeral professionals asking why they need an aftercare program. No matter who is asking the question, I begin my response the same way; with a story from my own life. 24 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 Ten years ago, when I was 25, I lost my father to brain cancer. He was 46 years old and had seven young children. During the funeral planning process, I learned firsthand about the value of funeral service and its importance for those left behind. I also noticed things that needed improvement. Though I didn’t know the term “aftercare” at the time, I recognized that it was missing from my family’s experience. After the funeral service, we did not hear from the funeral home and were left to navigate our grief alone. I didn’t want others to have to experience a loss that way, which ended up being the primary motivating factor that led to my career in the funeral profession.

ADOBE STOCK “Why Aftercare?” For Families As I mentioned above, my family did not hear anything from the funeral home after the service itself. We were not expecting to hear anything from them, but I recognize now that it was a missed opportunity. My father fought cancer for three years. For 36 months, we had the chance to prepare ourselves for the inevitable grief and pain we would feel upon losing him. Through that process, I learned that there is nothing we could have done to prepare ourselves for that moment when we eventually lost him. Even with those three years, we still felt blindsided and like we didn’t know where to turn for support after the service and our friends and extended family went back to their day-to-day lives. My story is not unique. Every day families across the country lose loved ones, either expectedly or unexpectedly. In both cases, it is devastating for families and grief can have a considerable impact. There are over 13 million grievers due to death in the United States every year. The role of aftercare is to provide those families you serve with a metaphorical, yet sometimes literal, lifeline. A way for families to get their questions answered and have their needs met. I recognize that a funeral home isn’t a grief therapy clinic, and funeral directors aren’t grief therapists, but they don’t have to be. The simple act of reaching out to families who have lost a loved one and letting them know that they are not alone; that others are thinking about them goes a long way. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 25

Aftercare “Why Aftercare?” For Funeral Homes Even if funeral homes understand that aftercare and following up with the families they serve is the right thing to do, it can still go overlooked. Funeral home staffs are busy, and I understand that the most important family is the family that is across the table from you. Quite frankly, many funeral home owners don’t see aftercare as a worthwhile investment. They might think that because the family chose their funeral home today, they will always choose their funeral home. We know that is not the case. Families are more transient than ever, moving more than 11 times on average during their lifetimes. That movement, combined with more competition, can make it difficult for funeral homes to expand their market share or even hold on to their existing market footprint. Aftercare that drives at-need is the most worthwhile for funeral homes. While metrics like “brand loyalty” are absolute byproducts of a successful aftercare program, they can be hard to quantify and measure a return on investment. That is why funeral homes need to incorporate a Google review strategy into their aftercare program. We know that over 90% of consumers today read online reviews when considering a purchasing decision, including funeral service. Even more staggering is the fact that over 97% of those that do read online reviews trust them as much as recommendations from friends and families. Over 2,500 people per month turn to Google and search for the phrase “funeral home near me.” That means that 2,500 at-need cases are essentially up for grabs every month. A family that is new to your area or who doesn’t “The role of aftercare is to provide those families you serve with a metaphorical, yet sometimes literal, lifeline.” have a relationship with a funeral home depends on tools like Google and reviews from others to help them make their funeral purchasing decision. 26 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 • More than 2500 people Google “funeral home near me” every month • More than 90% of consumers read online reviews • 97% of those trust the reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends The fastest and easiest way to improve at-need call volume is to improve your funeral home’s Google review rating. It is always a highlight of my day when funeral home owners call or text me saying they just had another family choose them over a competitor because of the strength of their review profile. Lessons from COVID-19 There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the funeral industry, and every industry, for that matter, to take a hard look at itself and the way it does business. We’ve seen companies like Zoom, the videoconferencing company, more than double their share price, and we’ve seen others like retail giant J. Crew declare bankruptcy due to the pandemic.\We’ve learned companies, funeral homes included, that fail to adapt to this new way of doing business will not succeed in a post-COVID-19 world. These changes include how aftercare is done. Many funeral homes have aftercare groups that meet in their facilities or have grief counselors that visit with families in their homes. This pandemic has put a halt to those types of programs. But it’s also further emphasized the need for aftercare. Families who have lost loved ones during this pandemic haven’t been able to have the gathering and support

AftercareA that my family experienced or that they would have otherwise experienced if not for this global pandemic. Text messaging has emerged as the perfect medium through which to conduct an aftercare program during COVID-19. The personal nature of text messages combined with its 98% open rate, ensures that families are seeing the messages of support and comfort from funeral homes during a time of social isolation. One example: our Domanicare aftercare messages regularly see a 51% response rate. That number has increased in recent weeks as we are seeing more families looking for someone to talk to and express their feelings during this uniquely trying time. Funeral service as a category has remained mostly unchanged for decades. It has been driven by relationships and connections, with those relationships and connections happening mainly in person. With gatherings limited and many of the core tenants of funeral service disrupted, funeral homes must look for ways to provide value outside of the funeral home walls. For example, 40% of consumers expect live streaming of services will and should be available permanently. Interestingly, only 21% are willing to pay for that additional service. More people also express that the importance of attending a funeral in person has decreased. I believe in funeral service, and I know that we will rally together for the benefit of the families we serve and the profession as a whole. These are truly unprecedented times, but as funeral homes look to meet the needs of the families they serve, opportunities will arise to provide more value and more meaningful connection, which, in the end, is what is best for everyone. ADOBE STOCK Jon Lefrandt is the CEO and co-founder of Domanicare, one of OGR’s Endorsed Suppliers and an innovative and awardwinning text-messaging based aftercare program. Jon created Domanicare after experiencing crippling grief first-hand. After that experience, he decided to do something about the gap that has existed between funeral homes and aftercare families for years. To connect with Jon, call him at 801-615-5039 or email him at jon@thedomanigroup.com. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 27

Business APASI’s Guaranteed Travel Assurance Plan: A Perfect and Profitable Preneed Partnership By Andrew Pavela The American Pre-Arrangement Services, Inc., better known as APASI, Guaranteed Travel Assurance Plan is truly a product the families you serve deserve to know about. It’s affordable, comprehensive, guaranteed, and in comparison to the costs families might incur if a loved one dies while away from home, it’s an incredible value. Plus, it is easy to add this profit booster onto any prearrangements you make. This travel plan makes sense for anyone who still travels, who visits family or friends, or spends part of the year away in a warmer climate. During the course of the conversation should they mention out of town travel or visits, or you ask them directly if they ever go more than 75 miles away from home, then the next suggestion should be for them to consider purchasing a Travel Plan. As an example, a few years back, a married couple was offered an APASI travel pl an during t heir pr ea r rangement meeting. The husband was s e ven ye a r s younger than the wife and didn’t think he needed it, although she bought a plan. Unfortunately, he died in Florence, Italy during their second honeymoon trip. It cost the family nearly $10,000 to bring him back to Illinois. It is easy to add this profit booster onto any pre-arrangements you make. Agents should not assume someone does not need it or cannot afford it. When an Agent does not offer it, they are making a financial decision not only for their client, but for their clients’ loved ones, who are going to be on the hook for the expenses. While transporting human remains internationally can easily cost families thousands, even domestic transport 28 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 is expensive. Ground transportation alone averages $4.00 per mile. Most funeral homes have only dealt with a few cases out of their county, out-of-state, or even out-of-thecountry, so they are usually not familiar with the return process. Depending on the place of death, it could involve repatriation assistance, finding a translator, securing legal or estate services, scheduling flights and partnering with a funeral home at the place of death. At APASI, this is what we do every day. We take care of the details and let you take care of the family left behind. When people hear the terms “Travel Assurance” or “Travel Plan” they probably think about coverage they would purchase before a vacation, cruise, or flight. They do not think about what could happen when they travel

Business near their home. In many cases, APASI’s members die less than 500 miles from their homes and the Travel Plan covers deaths occurring just 75 miles from home. People travel 75 or more miles from home for many more reasons than for vacation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Americans travel 11 billion miles each day just traveling from one point to another. In addition to traveling for shopping, dining, visiting friends and family, or for business, tens of thousands of people travel more than 75 miles for specialized medical care. How We Are Different Unlike other travel plans, the APASI Guaranteed Travel Assurance Plan covers deaths at medical facilities, even while out of the country. Our competitors will not cover a member if they have traveled out of the country for a medical procedure. Additionally, APASI’s plan covers a member for up to 180 consecutive days away from home. This is particularly relevant in today’s pandemic situation, where people have found themselves sheltering in place with family or friends instead of in their own homes. Our members pay a one-time fee, and they are covered for life. Unlike other travel plans, our plan is backed by a unique insurance policy written especially for APASI by a large insurance company. This protects every single member. We want our members to be comfortable and secure in their plan for life. APASI offers a guaranteed lifetime membership above and beyond other Travel Assurance Plans. APASI’s 450,000 members enjoy coverage that includes exclusive benefits, and priceless peace of mind whenever and wherever they travel. Travel Plans and Preneed Sales Support When a person starts the funeral pre-arrangement process, they’re focused on one thing: preparing for their death. They’re tying up every potential loose end so their families won’t have to struggle financially or scramble to make decisions at an already difficult time. These are the very same reasons our preneed partners need to offer APASI’s comprehensive Travel Plan Membership — and why the preneed arrangement meeting is the perfect time to offer it to the clients you are meeting with. If the unthinkable happens when your client is away from home, APASI will carefully and lovingly manage every step in the tedious process of bringing a member home. APASI does not sell their travel plans directly to consumers. Instead, we work primarily with agents who sell our Travel Assurance Plans and we routinely forward calls from consumers to one of our partners. Recently, APASI streamlined and simplified our process for agents to get started offering our plans. In addition to thorough virtual training for agents, APASI provides printed materials, displays, and videos to help market and educate clients on the benefits of a travel plan. Producers also receive generous incentives for selling, APASI’s, Travel Assurance Plan Membership. Comparing Costs The biggest benefit for members may be the amount of money they will save if the unthinkable happens while they are away. Often, though, it is that “unthinkable” aspect that keeps a person from buying a travel plan. Most funeral homes and preneed companies charge around $450 for a lifetime membership in the APASI travel plan and unlike other travel plans, APASI’s members’ coverage is guaranteed. Your funeral home or preneed companies sets the price you want to charge and then just pays APASI a portion to secure the coverage. The remainder remains with your funeral home. Since 2004, we have saved our members’ families, approximately $8 million and countless hours of stress, due to the fact the member had a Guaranteed Travel Assurance Plan in place from APASI. Andrew Pavela is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at APASI. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 29

Member News Funeral Homes Get Creative and Offer Drive-Thru/Drive-In Services In light of recent social distancing protocols, Kolssak Funeral Home in Wheeling, IL started offering private, ‘drive-thru’ style visitations at their firm. The facility and property are uniquely positioned so friends and families can remain in their vehicles and drive through to view the deceased and pay respects to the family. Kolssak has had a handful of families take advantage of this service. Meanwhile, in Shawnee, OK, Cooper Funeral Home hosted a service for a local veteran at a nearby bowling alley. The deceased spent a lot of his time bowling, so Cooper worked with the bowling alley to host the drivein funeral. Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home Moves Grief Support Online In an effort to continue serving grieving families. Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home in Hamburg, NY moved their in-person grief support groups to Zoom, renaming them “A Virtual Coffee Hour”. The funeral home partners with a local counselor to facilitate the gathering and help those who are feeling especially isolated and grief stricken during the pandemic. Evan J. Strong Funeral Home Sponsors Grief Webinar The funeral home, located in Calgary, AB, sponsored a webinar, And Along Came COVID-19…Healing Grief During a Pandemic, led by registered psychologist, Maureen Theberge. If you have news you’d like featured in upcoming issues of The Independent, email Adeline Border at aborder@ogr.org. 30 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020

Member News Members Interviewed by News Stations during COVID-19 Pandemic Jakubs and Son Funeral Home in Cleveland, OH was featured on their local news station, sharing about the impact COVID-19 has had on how people grieve loved ones. Jackie McQuade of Schuyler Hill Funeral Home in the Bronx, NY was featured on the Tamron Hall Show as she shared how the death toll of the pandemic has overwhelmed their family funeral home more than the 9/11 terrorist attacks did in 2001. Geraldine Oliverie of Oliverie Funeral Home in Manchester, NJ and Michael Kulbacki of Brunswick Memorial Funeral Home in East Brunswick, NJ were interviewed by a local news station on how New Jersey funeral homes are helping people mourn during the COVID-19 crisis. OGR Family Contact Program As funeral directors are forced to change the way they do business amid the pandemic, feedback from the families you serve is more important than ever. OGR’s staff would like to apologize for the delay in reporting from the Family Contact Program caused by our move to Indianapolis, but we are happy to announce everything is back on schedule and you should receive your June report shortly. We thank you for your patience during this time of transition. As a reminder, you can get your funeral home’s reports even faster by encouraging your families to fill out the form online instead of using the paper form. Contact Alyssa Castille, OGR’s new Family Contact Program manager, at acastille@ogr. org to get your funeral home’s custom link. If you’ve never enrolled in the program, it’s a tremendous benefit for any funeral home and is FREE for all OGR members. Find out more on our website at OGR.org/Family-Contact. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 31

Members & SuppliersA Johnson Consulting Group Promotes Roberge to Senior Business Consultant Johnson Consulting Group promoted Vince Roberge to Senior Business Consultant in June. Roberge joined the company in March 2019 working on their customer experience focus for funeral home and cemetery clients. Roberge is a Certified Funeral Celebrant with a license in mortuary science and degree in economics, and has previously worked in location management and leadership operations. “Vince has been a major contributor in the development of our signature Business Consulting Services as well as monthly client meetings,” said Nelson Thulin, director Iverson Joins Messenger Sales Team Messenger appointed Christopher Iverson as sales consultant for southern California, Arizona, and Hawaii in May. He has 22 years of experience as a licensed funeral director and crematory manager. Iverson retired in 2014 but rejoined the industry a few years later, working in mortuaries for a time before moving to Messenger’s sales team. 32 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020 of business consulting. “Vince has consistently provided insight and support to all departments and leadership within JCG and has done so at an exceedingly high level.” In his new role as Senior Business Consultant, Roberge will work directly with Johnson Consulting Group clients and provide a wide variety of consulting services including performance management, strategic planning, and leadership development. He will also assist in managing the company’s ever-increasing vendor partnerships. Veterans Funeral Care Opens Second Clearwater Location OGR member Jim Rudolph purchased a new location for his funeral home just as the coronavirus pandemic began. Even with the safety restrictions that made the remodel and move more difficult, Jim and his staff were able to open the funeral home on schedule. The second location is a full-service funeral home that serves every member of the Tampa Bay community and incorporates the veteran’s branding throughout the building, starting with the Marine Corps 5-ton truck parked in front of the funeral home.

In Memoriam Remembering Family and Friends Patrick Joseph Strong May 1, 1937 – April 19, 2020 Father of OGR Member Evan J. Strong Evan J. Strong Funeral Services Calgary, AB John “Jack” Bartlett Brust 1928 – April 27, 2019 OGR Member Founder of Brust Funeral Home Lombard, IL www.ogr.org | The Independent® 33

Member SpotlightA OGR Spotlight on Singleton Funeral & Cremation Services, P.A. Member Pam Hovatter shared her experiences with running a successful funeral home. Tell me a little about how your funeral home was founded and how it operates today. Singleton Funeral Home was founded in 1932 by Thomas W. Singleton. Today, the staff of Singleton Funeral & Cremation Services continues to show their distinction as one of the most respected funeral homes in North Anne Arundel County, Maryland. We strive to provide personalized and unique services that truly memorialize your loved one. We are committed to providing dignified and quality services to individuals of all faiths and ethnicities. Why do you believe a funeral service is important? In any society there is a need of someone to care for the dead. No matter your beliefs, there is going to be someone to guide, assist and care for the deceased and their family. It’s an essential profession no matter where you live or your culture and it’s our calling. What do you believe distinguishes your funeral home from other funeral homes? Our caring and professional staff has always been a cornerstone in the way we operate our funeral home. Being progressive and sensitive to the needs in our community is another aspect of our funeral home. What does your funeral home do in order to create a strong community presence? Do you believe that is important? Thomas W. Singleton, founder What is the most rewarding part of working in the funeral service industry? Being able We continue to support our local community organizations, through volunteering, donations, and interaction. It’s certainly a presence that is needed in order to make a difference. We host a service of remembrance once a year for our families, we also have an adjoining building we allow families to use for their after-service luncheon. We can help them with catering or they can bring their own food. We can also use it for services, or it is rented to people for events other than funerals, such as showers, birthday parties, etc. In what ways do you use technology to further the service you offer? to help people. Guiding and walking with them through the loss and being able to make a comforting difference in their lives is what it’s all about. We offer online obituaries with an up-to-date website. We create memorial slide presentations to be played during visitations and are also put on our website. The funeral home is completely WiFi compatible with free access to all. We utilize Spotify for our music needs and Zoom for web hosting events. 34 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020

Member Spotlight What growing trends have you noticed in the funeral service industry? In what ways have you tried to keep up with these changes? Society in general has gone more digital in the way we communicate with each other and businesses. We’ve kept up with the times through Facebook, Docusign, Zoom, Tukios and other available outlets in order to ease the family from additional burdens and stress. How has your funeral home pivoted to serve families during the COVID-19 pandemic? Like most funeral homes currently, we’ve had to shift the way we operate. Most interaction with the families we serve are now done remotely by phone, email, and/ or Zoom. One of the challenges we have to face is the limit of guests / family members allowed in the funeral home is only 10 people. So we created another option for families to be able to pay their respects to the deceased by offering a drive-by viewing window, which was specially designed and created by one our employees and allows cars to freely drive up to the casket and family behind the glass. This allows family and friends, no matter the number, to be able to say goodbye to the deceased and a way to show support to the family all while social distancing themselves. What do you value most about OGR? Why did you become a member? I love the close knit aspect of the members and their support of each other. When you attend the events, you’re able to network and share ideas with the group. Offering new ideas and a fresh perspective to concerns you might be dealing with back at your own funeral home. Is there anything in particular that you do at work to keep your spirits high or the spirits of your staff high? We try to keep a healthy and positive work environment for the staff. You don’t want to burn them out especially during these stressful times, so they get time off, are provided free lunch and other employee perks, and are able to interact with management freely. What are three future goals you have in mind for your funeral home? Being able to transition from our current State and Local restrictions of COVID-19 to a less restrictive situation www.ogr.org | The Independent® 35

Member Spotlight Singleton Funeral & Cremation Services staff will be our primary focus. We’re all looking forward to being able to allow family and friends back into the funeral home for viewings and services. It may not look like it has in the past, but I hope it will meet the needs of our community and the families we serve. Anything else you would like to share about your funeral home? We have a Grief Therapy dog, named Hope that is also a special part of what we do. Hope, the Grief Therapy dog 36 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020

Above & Beyond These select Above & Beyond comments are about members who have received outstanding comments on Family Contact surveys for providing exemplary service and going above & beyond expected service levels. These members are now eligible for the Exemplary Service Award. Montgomery & Steward Funeral Directors, Inc., Pueblo, California The staff at Montgomery & Steward Funeral were very helpful during such a difficult time. I did not have to worry about a thing, they handled every detail perfectly. I would highly recommend them to others. The funeral director could not have been more helpful and made such a good impression on me and my family. He was always available to answer any questions I had. He was very knowledgeable, compassionate, and made me feel that he had all the time in the world to work with me on every detail. Montgomery & Steward went above and beyond to honor my family and gave my mom (deceased) great dignity and class. I received so many comments on how well everything was done. I would not change a thing. My mother’s funeral was a beautiful tribute to her, because of all the attention to details. Several people came up to me after the service and said that they will be making funeral arrangements at this funeral home. Very impressed! Davenport Family Funeral Home and Crematory, Crystal Lake, Illinois When I first called Davenport Family Funeral Home and Crematory, Katie was the one who answered the phone and she was so calm and helpful to me. Peggy came to pick up my mom (deceased) and was patient and waited over an hour for my sister to be able to see my mom before they took her away. Peggy made us feel comfortable and was very helpful in explaining everything to us during our first meeting. She did a great job at being available to answer calls or questions after we met. I had so many people comment on how beautiful my mom looked and how nice the funeral Above A FAMILY CONTACT THE GOLDEN RULE & Beyond home felt. So many thanks to Bridget, Nancy, Bob, and Kelly for being there during the wake. Kelly, thank you for bringing mom to her resting place in Wisconsin on one of the snowiest, coldest days of the year. I know my mom would have been very impressed with how Davenport Family Funeral Home handled everything. Thank you to all for making such a sad time in our lives feel so beautiful and comforting to us. Plummer Funeral Services, Inc., Litchfield, Illinois The staff at Plummer Funeral Services are very compassionate and caring. They ensured that our family was treated with respect and that every detail of the funeral was accomplished to perfection. I met Terry Plummer (funeral director) when he came to pick up my mom (deceased). He was so helpful and personally took one of my family members to the funeral home for the service. This meant a lot to me to see he cared and showed such compassion. I knew my mom was in the best hands! Terry Plummer communicated with me many times before and since the funeral to ensure that I am personally doing ok. The funeral home presented my mom beautifully. I was very pleased and proud of the funeral arrangements and I know my mom was “happy” on her “final day.” Nothing else could have been done differently. The staff made sure every detail was carried through excellently. Plummer Funeral Services is the best! Heafy-Hoffman-Dworak-Cutler Mortuaries, Omaha, Nebraska The staff at Heafy-Hoffman-Dworak-Cutler Mortuaries provided outstanding service. They all showed kindness, compassion, and prompt replies to our needs. They were flexible to all our special requests and kept www.ogr.org | The Independent® 37

Above & BeyondA us informed, including timing of the actual cremation so we could pray during the process. Bill Cutler was the most kind, professional & responsive funeral director we could have asked for. We trust him completely. He gave extra attention to details of our loved one’s remains and made sure everything was done right. He helped our family get through the process of funeral arrangements and helped our loved one find peace. The staff did a great job making sure details like engraving, flowers, and printed materials were done perfectly. They always checked and verified our requests to help us and make sure we would be pleased with the outcome. We are so grateful for how beautiful and well done everything was. Freitag Funeral Home, Bridgeton, New Jersey I was so overwhelmed with everything I had to do during such a difficult time in my life. That was, until I walked into Freitag Funeral Home. The staff was supportive, compassionate, and really eased all the overwhelming feelings I had. They instantly made me feel calm and put my mind at ease. Mr. Freitag and staff went over everything in detail with me. I felt comforted and was treated with such respect. They went above and beyond for me and I appreciated their time and effort. The service was absolutely perfect. The advice I received helped so much and I am so glad I chose the service I did. Every aspect of the service was done in a respectful matter and the attention to detail was impeccable. I truly would not do anything differently. I felt completely at peace with what I chose. It was the best way to have the final goodbye. I could not have gone through it without the help and support of the staff. The Family Contact Program is a FREE member benefit that is simple to use and offers valuable information on your funeral home’s operations, services and staff through surveying families you’ve served. Join OGR’s Family Contact Program today and you could be one of next year’s Exemplary Service Award winners. For more information or to sign up, visit www.ogr.org/family-contact-program or contact us by email at familycontact@ogr.org or 800-637-8030. Celebrating Milestone Anniversaries — July, August, & September — 60 years | August 1960 McIntire, Bradham & Sleek Funeral Home Wooster, OH 45 years | August 1975 Schilling Funeral Home Sterling, IL 55 years | August 1965 Bunker Family Funeral Service & Cremation Mesa, AZ 35 years | July 1985 Dryer Funeral Home, Inc. Holly, MI 38 www.ogr.org | Summer 2020

Member News 35 years | August 1985 Patton Funeral Home-Brownsville Chapel Brownsville, KY 35 years | September 1985 Wages & Sons Funeral Home Lawrenceville, GA 30 years | July 1990 Lea Funeral Home Raleigh, NC 25 years | August 1995 Mothe Funeral Homes, LLC New Orleans, LA 20 years | July 2000 Hines Funeral Home, Inc. Hartsville, SC 15 years | August 2005 Crawford-Osthus Funeral Chapel, LLC Watertown, SD 5 years | August 2015 Walker Life Celebration Center Cincinnati, OH 35 years | August 1985 Allen-Beyer Funeral Home Key Largo, FL 30 years | July 1990 Pomeroy Funeral Home, Inc. Croswell, MI 25 years | July 1995 El Senorial Funeral Home Willemstad, Curacao 20 years | July 2000 Lewis Funeral Home, Inc. Milton, FL 15 years | July 2005 Jenkins Funeral Chapel, Inc. Westlake, OH 5 years | July 2015 Lesotho Funeral Services, Ltd. Maseru, Lesotho A www.ogr.org | The Independent® 39

International Order of the Golden Rule 3502 Woodview Trace, Ste. 300 Indianapolis, IN 46268 www.ogr.org Presort Std. U.S. Postage PAID Indianapolis, IN Permit #279

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