I fell in love at a very young age. It was not to my wife - that would come later - but to the funeral service.
During middle school, high school and my time at Niagara County Community College, I would assist at my uncle’s funeral home in all aspects of funeral service. After studying at Niagara County Community College, I knew that funeral service was my passion and nothing would stop me. I then enrolled in Simmons Institute of Funeral Service in Syracuse, NY. Simmons was an accredited funeral service trade school, highly ranked in the nation. Simmons was different from other schools offering a mortuary science program, in which students, beginning the very first day, were given a pager and would report back to the campus when a death occurred; preparing them for the unpredictable demands of funeral service. The students would assist in the care transport from the place of passing, the embalming and any other preparations that needed to take place. Quite often, local funeral homes would hire students to work services and all aspects of funeral service. This is where I excelled. I would soon realize that hours in a class room could never equate to the reality of walking through grief with people that had lost a loved one. I took advantage of all of this. Instead of returning home on the weekends, I was given a permanent pager by the school. As a result, upon graduating, I was awarded several awards in recognition for my hands-on experience at the school itself and for the many extra hours employed by local funeral homes. Prior to graduating from Simmons, one of the funeral homes that I assisted during my education offered me a full-time position. I stayed in the Syracuse area for several months and returned to the Niagara Falls area to be closer with my family. At first, I second guessed my decision to leave Syracuse, but soon realized that God had other plans. Shortly after returning to Niagara Falls, I was given the opportunity to purchase Otto Redanz Funeral Home in the Town of Niagara. To find a funeral home for sale is rare. To find the one you want is almost impossible. Some say at 24 years old I was lucky; I say I was blessed. I believe my calling is in funeral service and continue to minister grieving families through the funeral home. For me, it's the service ... service to the family going through a horrible experience and walking them through it. Those in grief need people to guide them and stand with them while they walk through it. They deserve a certain level of dignity and respect and at that time, for me, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.
At the onset of purchasing the funeral home, I began working hard to set it apart from other local funeral homes. There is an "intense" focus on service, which is what this business is about. In hindsight, I do not think that the way other funeral home owners serve the community is wrong, I feel they are incomplete. There is more to funeral service than just arranging a funeral. We go to great lengths to serve families. I have listened for things that are important to the families I serve and made adjustments or additions along the way. Now we sit in 2016 and the needs of the families we serve have changed, so I simply evolve with them, accommodating every possible need. Myself and my staff literally take care of everything for you. From arranging the funeral to whatever needs to be done to assist in celebrating a life once lived and ultimately being intricate in the beginning stages of the healing process; and after the funeral…..we are still there to continue to serve you in every capacity.
Moving forward, I am putting in a pet loss area and plans are being discussed to integrate new technologies throughout the property and expand or modernize certain areas of the home to better serve the community. Recently, I installed an arrangement suite; a more comfortable area for families to discuss funeral arrangements, in a living room setting versus sitting at a desk. It is much more personable. I believe that the families we serve feel much more at ease and realize that I am just another person, like themselves, helping and walking right along with them on their journey. Sometimes in this world, we need another person to lean on, and I am happy to be that person.
In 2015, we developed our mission statement to briefly define us and set us apart; Our mission… is to continue, after 84 years of Christian Service, to be the leading funeral home, providing the highest quality service and professionalism that our families deserve and expect, regardless of financial backgrounds. Through the love of Jesus, I hope that the service I provide, will be my legacy; a manifestation of that love.
Today, I live in the Town of Niagara with my supporting and loving wife, Laura Sweney-Goodlander and my three children, Christopher, Addison and Evelyn, who, in hopes, would continue my dedication to funeral service and follow in my footsteps.
In closing, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t graciously thank God for all I have been blessed with and trusted with; from serving you, the public, in the very worst times in your lives to raising three beautiful children.
My life-verse, that I don’t try to define it, but that it defines me; ~Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life-1 Timothy 1:15-16.
"I hope you will allow me to walk alongside you through your grief journey-not as an expert, but as a companion who has seen much of the terrain. My heart goes out to you. There are no magical words to bring an end to grief. I wish that there were, but I hope I am able to give you comfort, support, strength and encouragement."