Member Spotlight Member Spotlight Spotlight on Hoffen Funeral Home – Millstadt, Illinois Member Elle Heiligenstein is the owner of Hoffen Funeral Home, LLC in Millstadt, Illinois, and also serves as funeral director and embalmer. She shared her experiences with running a successful funeral home for the past six years. How did you get started in the funeral industry? I was a hair stylist and over time counseled many clients experiencing a loss. I felt a sense of satisfaction at helping these people and wanted to do more. I had always found the art and science of embalming interesting, so I decided to pursue my formal education in funeral service at the age of 40. What makes your funeral home unique? My funeral home is woman-owned and both of my apprentice funeral directors are women. We are heavily focused on community outreach. We deliver mealson-wheels to area seniors twice per week. We are a reasonably priced funeral home with premium level services. Locally, we are known as the house of Tiffany, due to the 19 Tiffany chandeliers that I installed in the funeral home last year. I began my career in funeral service at an OGR firm in St. Louis, Missouri. The owner was a mentor of mine and I saw how he followed the tenets of OGR on a daily basis. His motto was “Loving people and serving them, kindness always” and this really impacted me. I learned early on how being in an organization such as OGR was valuable as a guiding tool for the staff and also made the families feel at ease, knowing that an OGR firm was held to a higher standard. I thought then that if I ever had my own funeral home, I would try to become a member. Applying for OGR membership was the second thing I did after filling out the loan paperwork when I was buying my funeral home. The day Nancy Weil called to tell me I was approved was one of the best days of my career! 30 www.ogr.org | Winter 2021 Elle Heiligenstein getting ready to deliver food with Meals on Wheels on Dec. 11, 2020. (photo courtesy Elle Heiligenstein) What is the most rewarding part of your occupation? When families tell me that they could not have gotten through the funeral service without our care and compassion, this is what makes all the sacrifices and hard work worth it. I am often told I make the process easy. I have never quite figured out what people mean by that, but it seems to me that they expect the arrangements and services to be stressful and complicated for them and are pleasantly surprised when we make things as seamless as possible.

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