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Ellers Mortuary maintains community focus

Services expanding since 2016 acquisition by Service Corporation International

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HONOR — Members of the VFW Military Rites Unit stand guard as a cremation ceremony is held for a veteran at Ellers Mortuary and Cremation Center.

While some may have feared the acquisition of Ellers Mortuary and Cremation Center by Service Corporation International (SCI) would have caused the long-time Kokomo business to lose its personal touch, nothing could be further from the truth.

In 2016 SCI purchased Ellers, and the acquisition has proven fruitful. According to General Manager Jaime Handy, the transition has actually strengthened the company’s ties to the community. Not only has the transition allowed for more community involvement, but overall the services offered by the mortuary and cremation center have expanded since 2016.

“I think it’s always important to maintain our ties to the community because the nature of our business is so personal,” said Handy. “Because we are so service-oriented, taking care of our community goes beyond what we offer grieving families. We want to be involved in the community and SCI encourages that.”

Community involvement for Ellers comes in multiple forms. Primarily, the mortuary and cremation center began offering expanded free services to some clientele.

In 2016, new initiatives Ellers began rolling out included free burials for homeless veterans as well as affinity discounts for employees of FCA, GM, Walmart, and to members of the VFW and American Legion.

With the holiday season approaching, Ellers is offering another service to help families through what Handy said can be a difficult time of the year. That comes in the form of The Compassion Helpline, a 24-hour confidential telephone counseling service that provides emotional support and guidance to those dealing with grief.

“The holidays can be a joyous time, but it can also be a hard time because a lot of people lose their loved ones during the holidays,” said Handy.

The helpline can be reached at 1-866-649-9644 during the month of December.

While Ellers has maintained its community-oriented focus through the expansion of free and discounted services, it also has remained active in its nonprofit endeavors as well. Most readily, Handy said that is apparent in the company’s ongoing support of We Care during the nonprofit’s annual telethon.

Beyond services aimed at helping the community, another big shift for the local business that’s been in Kokomo since 1924 was the recent addition of an onsite cremation center.

Before the SCI requisition in 2016, families opting for cremation services had to have their loved one transported to a crematory out of town. Now, according to Handy, the process is much simpler, and the new center allows for cremation ceremonies locally.

To coincide with the new site, Ellers has begun offering free cremation seminars as well. These allow prospective customers to learn about the process, which Handy said can be more difficult than customers expect.

“A lot of people, with the cremation rate increasing every year, people think we’ll just cremate them,” said Handy. “Well, it’s not that simple. We have to have a death certificate. We have to wait 48 hours after death, and the family member in charge has to sign off on it.”

To learn more about Ellers Mortuary and Cremation Center, located at 3400 S. Webster St., visit Ellers Mortuary is part of the Dignity Network along with Sunset Memory Garden and Kokomo Memorial Park.