Sunday, September 25, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
A simple dream
About two years ago I lost my job as a dragline operator. I had decided to move into heavy equipment after I made a conscious decision to leave the funeral industry due to my observation of what I felt was a very greedy and corrupt industry. I really did not want much to do with it. I found myself really disliking people who worked in the industry, not because of what they did, but because of who and how they did it to people. I care a great deal for people and want to help as much as I could, but I also found myself working for people and corporations whose main concern was how much can you bring to the table when you make arrangements with a family. It was all about the numbers.
I spoke with my Mom in depth about what I could do, she said that I should do what I was good at, helping people to bury and grieve over their loved one. I sat down and wrote up a business plan, for one year I spent time putting together a small business that I felt could do better than those around me and be humble enough to not make a family uncomfortable with what I was trying to do for them. I knew a few people in the industry and one suggested I go talk to a man by the name of Tony Cerillo, Tony is the owner of "Serenity Mortuary Services". Serenity is the facility I use to do my family's cremations. Tony has been in the industry for 40+ years, and he was voted the number one funeral director in Arizona in 2009. I could not think of a better man to seek guidance from, and that's all I wanted, I really wanted to do this on my own.
We found two or three locations at first, one always seemed to give way to the next until finally I found myself in the west valley. Goodyear then Avondale, I went through the motions of petitioning the city of Avondale to open in the "old town" district. I hat to go through a 4 month process before I could open. The location I found was the old "Western Avenue Baptist Church" on Western Avenue. It needed a bit of work, ok, allot of work. But we did it. I remember when I was out and about picking furniture for the funeral home people would ask what I was doing with it, I would tell them, "I'm opening a funeral home". They thought I was crazy. I had so much furniture and equipment stored in my garage at home that I had to rent out a storage unit.
All the re-modeling we did by ourselves. We didn't want to go "over the top". We were on a tight budget and we wanted the place to be like as if you were at your own home. I think we succeeded. People always say that when they come in.
Ours is just not one of them.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for allowing me to help you, serve you, guide you. I promise I will not let you down and we will always be here.
With much heartfelt respect,
Miguel A. Legaspi,
Owner, Avenidas Funeral Chapel
Oh! Semper Fi (Always Faithful)
Friday, September 9, 2011
First things first, I believe in God.
I had the honor of assisting a family in the final arrangements for a family member that passed away this week. It was a difficult time for them, as all arrangement processes are. You try to take the burden from their shoulders as much as you can, its important to me that I take as much pressure off of the families shoulders as quickly as possible. I try very hard to put their minds at ease and afford them the opportunity to grieve and find support amongst themselves and friends.
One of the situations that arose was the families effort to locate a worship facility that they might be able to have a simple visitation and service at. It was becoming more and more of a hassle for the family so I stepped in to assist. I contacted one location in a neighboring town that the family had previously contacted and asked the minister if the chance was open for the church to provide its facilities to the family for a service. In the industry, it is not uncommon for a families minister or a minister to contact a local church and ask permission to use the facility for a service, even if the family member was not a member of the church.
I contacted this local church and communicated to the minister about the families situation, their small budget and perhaps if there was a way that this facility could assist in providing a location for the service.
The first thing I was rudely told was, "Well, I talked to my insurance underwriter and he said it was too big of a risk, I can't do it". He hung up. I was shocked, I could not believe what just happened. Basically I was told by a local minister to go jump off a bridge, or words and meanings to that effect.
I sat at my desk numb, thinking for a minute what to do. I was a bit disturbed that a local worship facility would not even consider providing a simple 2 hour service to a local family. This minister did not even afford me the opportunity to offer a small honorarium to his facility for it's use.
After about five minutes I decided to call him back, I was to ask if perhaps I had misrepresented myself or came off the wrong way, I'm sure whatever it was I would be able to correct his misinterpretation of my request. Well, the phone was answered and again I re-introduced myself and I was told, "Where are you calling from?" I told him "Avenidas Funeral Chapel here in Avondale. I was just hoping that a facility of God, that a family reached out to might re-consider to provide a service to the family?" "Who are you?" He shouted, "Are you chastising me"? At this point I realized I made a very big mistake trying to appeal to this mans emotions and compassion.
I was told, and I quote:
Look! I know exactly what you and your people are like, people like you coming here and breaking all their legs all over my parking lot and everything at MY church. I heard about those people, they're a problem, I have no time for you or your type here.
Pastor I thought the Church was suppose to help out by serving the community, I have a grieving family here, They need a little compassion and help. I don't think I'm asking for so much.
Oh yeah, and just how much are you making off of this family using my church? Whats in it for me? Why don't your people go bug the Catholics or someone else? Use their church. I bet she didn't even go here did she?, stop wasting my time...........click!
First off, I thought the the church was suppose to be the house of God that belonged to the people, I thought that even if a person was less than perfect that everyone was welcome in the house of the Lord.
I was not aware that payments for services were required and expected.
I want to know exactly what was meant by the comments "your people" and "they're a problem" and "you and your type".
Please don't think harsh of any church of God. I have worked with some very fine ministers, pastors and priests in my day. Please remember that if you find yourself in a situation while looking for a worship facility for a service and your calls are not returned, you are given many excuses and much hesitation, or the topic of whether the deceased was a member of the congregation comes up over and over, or the topic of a honorarium comes up. Perhaps you should seek elsewhere.
I know one thing now, I will never recommend, nor ask a specific pastor or his church for a family while they are grieving and are looking for a compassionate soul to help them through these times.