|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD A longtime name in the area's funeral business has not only received a facelift, but a rededication of its philosophy to serving families in their time of need.
The Forastiere family, which operates five other funeral homes in the Valley, has made a major renovation of the Byron-Keenan Funeral Home on Allen Street. Suzanne O'Sullivan Keenan, the funeral director for the location, explained the renovations have a purpose to establish a level of comfort for families.
As she walked around the building she pointed out how the entire building is now being used. There is a children's room, complete with toys, games and books as well as chalkboard walls where children can play. There are also several smaller rooms for private meetings, as well as a community that has doors to an outside area.
Many of the rooms are adjustable for the size of the service, she added.
The new design emphasized the many existing windows in the building to make use the natural light, she added.
Details such as these are important in the funeral business. Keenan noted, "It's the little things that are the big things at the end of the day."
She said that families have loved the new decor and that funeral guests have commented favorably about it.
"People want that sense of comfort," Loren Forastiere said.
Forastiere said her family "has really invested in the city of Springfield with the renovations."
The amenities at the Byron-Keenan Funeral Home can give people more options, she added. The big difference is the personalization of services, Forastiere said.
Keenan, who was born and raised in Ireland, has been in the funeral business for the past 15 years and has worked for Forastiere for the past four years.
Keenan said she gets to know families very well during the funeral process and after it when she makes herself available for questions from family members.
"I become really attached to families," Keenan said. "It is the worst time of their lives and I have the privilege of working them through it. It's not just a job for me. It's who I am."
Forastiere said the Byron is one of the oldest names in the funeral business in the Springfield area and that Keenan is bringing new energy and a new era to it.
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