By Josette Keelor
Marty White, funeral director for Stover Funeral Home & Crematory Inc. in Strasburg, was one of 50 funeral directors around the country selected to participate in the National Funeral Directors Association's Meet the Mentors program earlier this month.
White said it was a privilege to be grouped among 50 nationwide.
"I was definitely like 'wow,'" he said.
The program took place March 18-19 at the Emory Conference Center Hotel on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta. It brought together young funeral professionals for an opportunity to learn from three of the country's leading directors and network with like-minded peers, according to a press release from Stover Funeral Home.
"They draw [the 50] out of a hat basically," he said. The age limit for program participants was 40, and White, at 39, said he "got in just under the wire."
White has worked at Stover's since 2007, after moving here from Abington.
"I think one of the things that Shenandoah County is blessed to have is a family owned funeral home," he said. Stover's is the only funeral home in the county with a crematorium on site, he said, and it also has full-service pet cremation.
"It's actually a kind of hidden treasure within the cloth of Shenandoah County," he said.
At the conference, he said, "A lot of it was leadership management."
"There were three different sections, three different mentors," he said. Mentors offered him and others management ideas in working with employees and communicating with families of the deceased.
The idea is to make better leaders and funeral directors, White said.
But it wasn't all about listening to others. He, in turn, was able to offer the group his own experience, particularly how he's helped bridge communication between Stover's and Blue Ridge Hospice.
He said a big part of his job is to educate caregivers in working with families on end-of-life care for loved ones. The mentoring program helped him see other ways he can use community services and assist families.
"It was amazing," he said. "It was far beyond my expectations, you know the wealth of information and the mentoring experience. ... It was a wow experience by far."
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org