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Christopher Mitchell awarded national honor for excellence

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 October 2016 at 5:55 pm
Photo courtesy of Bruce Landis: Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes in Albion and Holley has four full-time funeral directors, from left: Josh Mitchell, Scott Schmidt, Paula Fuller and David Mitchell.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Landis: Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes in Albion and Holley has four full-time funeral directors, from left: Josh Mitchell, Scott Schmidt, Paula Fuller and David Mitchell.

ALBION – A local funeral home has been recognized with a national award for excellence and customer service.

Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes is one of 160 funeral homes in the country that will receive the “Pursuit of Excellence Award” from the National Funeral Directors Association, which represents about 10,000 funeral homes.

The award is presented by the association to funeral homes that have demonstrated a commitment to raising the bar on funeral service excellence by adhering to strict ethical and professional standards and providing outstanding service to families and communities.

“The staff of these funeral homes demonstrate their commitment to the highest professional and ethical standards every single day,” said NFDA President Bob Arrington. “They have truly earned this award and we are proud to count them as members of NFDA.”

To earn an NFDA Pursuit of Excellence Award, a funeral home must demonstrate proficiency in key areas of funeral service, such as compliance with state and federal regulations; providing ongoing education and professional development opportunities for staff; offering outstanding programs and resources to bereaved families; maintaining an active level of involvement in the community; participating and actively serving in the funeral service profession; and promoting funeral home services through a variety of marketing, advertising and public relations programs.

Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes started in 1957, and has remained a locally owned business, donating many thousands of dollars to numerous local causes each year.

“Our staff all live and work in the communities we serve and we believe it is our obligation to not only be a part of those communities, but to give back to them as well,” said David Mitchell, who joined the funeral home in 1984, following his father, co-founder Rho Mitchell. “Whether giving back is in the form of volunteering time, talent or providing financial assistance, we all give back as we are grateful and proud to be part of the community.”

David’s son, Josh, is a third generation funeral director. He joined the family business in 2012. Josh, 26, also is a certified celebrant. He can officiate services for people who did not have an affiliation with a church. Josh sits down with family members of the deceased and he gives a eulogy at the funeral.

Josh also oversees the grounds at both Albion and Holley funeral homes. The Albion Betterment Committee recently presented Christopher Mitchell with a “Landscape Award” for the efforts to maintain flowers and keep up the high-profile sites.

“We try to make it feel cozy like a home,” Josh said. “It’s not a facility.”

Christopher Mitchell does about 180 funerals a year from its sites in Albion and Holley. All four funeral directors said they look forward to each day, working with their colleagues and members of the community.

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Photo by Tom Rivers: The funeral directors at Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes are pictured this morning outside the funeral home on Route 31.

Scott Schmidt, Orleans County’s chief coroner, has worked at Christopher Mitchell since 1997. He said the staff are like a family. Schmidt said listening, empathy and understanding are the most crucial skills to the job.

“You have the ability to make someone’s worse day a little bit better,” he said.

Paula Fuller grew up in Macedon across the street from a funeral home. She said she wanted to be a funeral director since she was 12. She did a one-year internship with Christopher Mitchell and stayed after David Mitchell offered her a job in 1994.

“I liked Albion,” she said. “I met some really nice people. It’s a small town and it’s a nice place to raise a family.”

The funeral directors coordinate with local clergy, churches, cemeteries, military honor guards, media outlets, casket and vault companies, flower shops and other service providers to assist families.

David Mitchell said the funeral directors are committed to providing the best possible service. He wants to pursue the award of excellence annually through the National Funeral Directors Association.

“We’re very, very honored to receive this award,” he said. “It will keep us striving to serve our local families.”

The award will be presented in Philadelphia during the NFDA annual convention on Oct. 24.

For more on the National Funeral Directors Association, click here.

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