A Day In The Life Of Our Trusted Advisors

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A Day In The Life Of Our Trusted Advisors

We are honored with the privilege to join families in the Life Celebration of their loved ones. We understand that end of life pain is difficult and part of the healing process begins with recognizing the lifetime of joy and the loved one's legacy that deserves to be properly celebrated.At Green Hills Memorial Park, we carefully practice an extensive hiring process to ensure our Trusted Advisors can provide the appropriate assistance during the entire planning process. You will find that our advisors come from diverse work and educational backgrounds and many have experienced similar pain of losing a loved one. They are graced with the strength and understanding of walking through the end of life pathway in their personal lives and have now turned their passion into helping families do the same.

In this article, we want to shine the spotlight on a handful of our trusted advisors who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure each family experiences a meaningful Life Celebration Service. We asked them to answer some questions about their experiences working at Green Hills Memorial. Graciously they have provided us with beautiful responses we felt must be shared. Although we wanted to share every response, we eliminated a few that were almost identical. We hope you enjoy these thoughtful and moving answers from these Trusted Advisors: Scott Stelzer, Melinda Cunningham, Nina Papadakis, Robert Bobich, and Courtney Kroger.

What is your favorite part about working at Green Hills Memorial?

“By far my favorite part about working at Green Hills is meeting and helping families through one of the most difficult times of their lives. Helping them through this and making decisions that will not only impact their present, but even more importantly the legacy of their family for years to come.” - Scott Stelzer

“To act as a Trusted Advisor to families in grief and to assist them through their loss allows me to feel not only the satisfaction of helping others, but in doing so I am paying forward the comfort that was offered to me when I lost my own father. It’s actually the reason I chose this profession; when Dad died, the Family Service Advisor who worked with me and my family was so kind in his assistance with the many details and decisions we had to make that I knew I wanted to be just like him. I also really enjoy the closeness I feel with many of the families I meet and love working with a team of professionals who are equally committed to providing the utmost in care and service to the community.” - Melinda Cunningham

“The connections you make with families you are caring for is so rewarding to me. The process of helping lay someone to rest and securing property for the family for the future. When you see them in the park and visit with them during events, you almost become a part of an extended family. You go through something so personal with them you will always have that special connection.” - Courtney Kroger

What is the hardest part about working at Green Hills Memorial?

“The most difficult part of working at GHMP is witnessing the tremendous pain and weight that some of our families have on their hearts when they come in for our initial consultation and/or at a service. Watching a mother or father grieve for the loss of a child has been incredibly difficult for me being a parent. It is hard at times not carrying this home with me and giving a little extra care and attention to my family. This job certainly makes you appreciate every day you have with family and friends.” - Scott Stelzer

“It’s hard enough to lose a loved one, and even harder when the circumstances surrounding a loss compounds a family’s hardship. If the decedent was a young person or a child who passed away unexpectedly, or if medical care of a dying loved one created financial hardship for the family, sometimes simply showing you care feels like it is not enough. I have to remind myself that there are limitations to what I can do, so I do the best I can.” - Melinda Cunningham

“This is a tough question. Of course there are challenges sometimes, but the job is so rewarding that very little is hard for me personally. I know that the hardest thing is when families have just lost a family member and walk in here. I try to make our appointments as easy and comfortable as possible. Even if I’m having a “hard” day it doesn’t compare to families losing a family member. I’m one of the first faces families see so I try to be in their shoes and take the appointment at their pace.” - Nina Papadakis

“That one is easy, laying a young person to rest, you realize the heartache that the family is going through and the life that person could have had.” - Courtney Kroger

Does walking with families through loss weigh on you in your personal life?

“In this industry, “How was your day?” is a Loaded question! I could go on and on about the tragedies I encounter daily, but I really try not to bring work home with me and so am often grateful for quiet time in the car on the way home from the park to think about and process my experiences with the families I serve. Being so close to their sadness sometimes reanimates my own sense of loss and sadness and, in thinking about it, I often find myself feeling thankful to be of service to others. I call it “putting the egg back in the shell,” a way to deal with my own grief by helping others through theirs. Being so close to death on a daily basis makes me thankful for all that I have and I strive to stay present and enjoy my time away from work. I love to ski, hike, read and go to live music shows.” - Melinda Cunningham

“Walking families through loss has pushed me to stay in the present moment. There are so many tragedies and unexpected losses that I have become more focused on the here and now. When I go home I am more grateful for what I have; my baby, my husband, parents, and family because I understand that every moment is fleeting.” - Nina Papadakis

“I look at this job as a blessing, I am able to help families at one of the worst times in their life and I am able to guide them through the process and give them a celebration of life for their loved one that they would never be able to receive at another cemetery or memorial park.” - Courtney Kroger

How do you stay hopeful and give hope to others?

“Having gone through the loss and planning of both my grandparents as well as my mom, I can certainly empathize with each and every one of the families I work with. I cannot (will not), let myself focus on the incredibly sad and potentially negative thoughts that may be consuming them. I do everything in my power to have my families focus on the wonderful blessing/gift of their loved ones’ life that they had bestowed upon them and helping them find the best way to celebrate that life in the most respectful way possible.” - Scott Stelzer

“I stay hopeful by staying grateful for the here and now. When I meet with families who have just lost someone I always focus on any advanced planning their loved one may have done ahead of time. I always stress that their loved one must have been so thoughtful to think enough ahead to not burden their families with making all the final arrangements.” - Nina Papadakis

“Going through a loss is different for each family. Sometimes I share personal experiences and sometimes I am just there to listen and provide an ear. Ultimately, this is why there is a memorial park: for someone to have a place for memories.” - Robert Bobich

What does a normal day look like for you as a Trusted Advisor?

“I meet several families a day. My duties include giving park tours, helping families select a final resting place for themselves and their loved ones, assisting in the planning of a funeral, attending services, creating designs for memorial markers and reaching out to families to offer further assistance or just to say hello.” - Melinda Cunningham

“Every day is so different and so busy! The general theme of my day is being of service to my families. From the burial service to the headstone design, I walk families through the entire process of laying a loved one to rest. I am continually open to feedback, preferences, and always doing what’s best for my families.” - NIna Papadakis

“It differs from day to day but, normally it is setting appointments attending to walk ins , taking calls when you are up on the down system, taking families on tours in our park, completing paperwork, quotes, sales and following up with mortuary’s, and families,. Working on my café and my memorial dashboard, designing and selling memorial markers and following up with the marker department and sending marker approvals standing services assisting fellow advisors, setting future APG appointments.” - Courtney Kroger

We are so thankful for the heart of the employees here at Green Hills Memorial. We could not carry out the work that we do without individuals who are truly passionate and connected to the families that we get to serve. We strive to never take this for granted and truly recognize this great honor.

What is something that stands out about Green Hills Memorial more than other memorial parks?

“At Green Hills Memorial Park professionalism is paramount. We understand the enormous trust that families place in us and take our job very seriously.” - Nina Papadakis

“For me, there are so many memories of Green Hills Memorial Park. Since I have so many family members here, I can remember times that I came to visit to pay respects or as a pallbearer or working here. I often come across and see the memorial markers for relatives, friends and neighbors to remind me of why I am here.” - Robert Bobich

“The people who work here. I don’t think I ever been surrounded by such a supportive team. We have a beautiful park and a beautiful facility, but the people that care for our family’s and our support team are a level above, they are truly the Gold Standard.” - Courtney Kroger

What is the most memorable moment you have had while working at Green Hills Memorial?

“This is a hard one, there have been so many. I helped a family a couple of years ago with the loss of their husband/father from a rare disease that took his life in just a short 3 week period. After donating his body to science so they could learn more about the disease that took his life, they lived up to his wishes and scattered his ashes in the river which he loved so much. Almost a year exactly to the date that dad passed, his only son passed away of an overdose at just 30 years of age. This was incredibly devastating to the family. After much discussion, they saw the benefit of having a place to come and pay their respects to both and purchased a space at the top of Inspiration Slope Mausoleum. The daughters/sisters of the deceased wanted to pay tribute to their brother and each had small tattoos of dragonflies done to remember their dad and brother and their love of the river. On the day of the service, over 300 attended and escorted the casket along with bagpipes from the memorial day site to the top of ISM. As we all processed to gravesite, we were literally surrounded by over 100 dragonflies that stayed with us through the remainder of the service. It was truly an amazing moment I won’t soon forget….” - Scott Stelzer

“A firefighter passed away from illness at the young age of 39 and the service was attended by over 200 people, including other firefighters, with a couple of their fire trucks. To honor the family, Green Hills set full-sized American flags all along the roads in the park leading up to the burial site. It was a touching tribute, and one that will be remembered forever.” - Melinda Cunningham

“The most memorable moment is actually a string of similar moments all rolled into one. When a family I’ve been working looks at me, shakes my hand, and thanks me with tears in their eyes it re-affirms that I am exactly where I need to be doing exactly what I need to do. It’s an honor to walk families through such a delicate time in their lives.” - Nina Papadakis

“There are so many instances of times I have come as a visitor and a worker. The most memorable is probably the most poignant when we helped my father and mother plan ahead years ago and then when we had services for my father last year.” - Robert Bobich

“When I laid to rest and secured spaces for a family of 7-in ISM. The husband was laid to rest in the ISM exterior niches next to the waterfall, the area reminded them of the summer camping trips with the all the river rocks and flowing water. The 21-year old daughter was moved from a niche in an older area in the park to a glass niche with a view of a bird in the mural on the ceiling. Her favorite hobby was bird watching and her name was Robyn. The grandparents were casket burials and their spaces overlooked the waterfall and their son-in-law’s space in an exterior niche. We advanced planned for the other set of grandparents to be next to their granddaughter Robyn in glass niches with a view of an exterior niche where her son is laid to rest. I was able to find spaces for all the family in the same area offering different burial options with views that bring happy memorials for the remaining mother and grandparents this gave them a lot of peace…That’s a good feeling.” - Courtney Kroger

We are so thankful for the heart of the employees here at Green Hills Memorial. We could not carry out the work that we do without individuals who are truly passionate and connected to the families that we get to serve. We strive to never take this for granted and truly recognize this great honor.

If you or a loved one needs assistance or has any questions regarding Advance Planning or any other inquiries, please call us at 310-521-4333. We can also be reached by email at preplan@ghmp.com.