Prepping for the future

These kids got a taste of the corporate world during “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day”

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

“You came to work for a reason.”

A group of children dressed in business casual clothing, pen and paper in hand, looked on as StoneMor facility and office services manager Michelle Liberty prepared them for their busy day ahead. April 27 was the 24th national “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” and while most kids across the country shadowed their parents, the Trevose “death-care” corporation took a different approach.

Five years ago, Liberty took a walk around the office during the annual event. She witnessed endless parents going about their work while their kids fell asleep out of boredom next to them. Thinking quickly, she called an “emergency meeting” in a conference room, much to the confusion of the parents. The “meeting” was complete with freshly ordered pizza and games. The day was such a hit, she was asked to turn it into a day-long program, and recently celebrated her fifth year running it.

Working it: On April 27, StoneMor in Trevose celebrated “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.” The mission for the day was to let the kids participate in a typical workday at a corporate office, and give them exposure to various departments in the company. SAMANTHA BAMBINO TIMES PHOTO

At 8:30 a.m., parents dropped their kids off in the large conference area on the lower floor. Doughnuts and coffee were provided, and they were able to spend time with their kids and mingle with coworkers until the program began. The children ranged in age from 7–14, and many came dressed for the event wearing suits and dresses.

The kids said goodbye to their parents at 9 a.m. and sat at tables before Liberty, who commanded the room in a respectable yet fun and engaging way. Ground rules were set, which included no speaking without raising a hand, and everyone’s names were put in a raffle for Phillies tickets. Whoever had the best behavior would receive a set of four.

StoneMor’s mission for the day was to let the kids participate in a typical workday at a corporate office, and give them exposure to various departments in the company. Human Resources was the first to stop by, and explained qualities they look for when interviewing potential candidates. Positivity and eye contact are key, and the kids were able to practice giving strong, professional handshakes. Each received their own time card to “clock in,” as well as offer letters if it were their first year and promotions if they previously attended the event.

Aside from keeping the kids engaged throughout the day, the biggest challenge according to Liberty is explaining the concept of “death care.” StoneMor owns 400 funeral homes and cemeteries across the country, and while this can be a dark and confusing subject for kids, CEO Larry Miller put a positive twist on it during “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.”

Miller started by asking who had ever been to a funeral. About three-fourths of the room raised their hands. He explained the prep work that goes into a funeral and the role of funeral directors, who assist grieving families through the many decisions that must be made.

“We’re there to help that family deal with their grief,” Miller said. “Our job is to help them get through that process.”

Many of StoneMor’s funeral homes are equipped with monitors during viewings, which show various pictures from the person’s life. He talked about the importance of these happy memories, and how the kids can share fun stories of the person with family members to alleviate some sadness.

“We always want to remember the good times,” he said. “We want to celebrate their life.”

Miller was lighthearted and engaged with the kids, wearing a brightly colored and patterned tie, a stark contrast from the usual dark colors associated with the funeral industry. He put an uplifting spin on “death care,” and even played along with some of the kids’ more personal questions such as his age, which some guessed to be 103, and if he ever fired someone.

Throughout the rest of the day, the future professionals learned about payroll, credit and collections, compliance and trust. During a presentation from Dina Kelly of marketing, they grasped the concept of advertising and how to make a brand appealing to various audiences. After dividing into smaller groups, half created StoneMor advertising posters while the rest filmed short clips for a 60-second commercial.

“We put them to work but keep it fun,” Liberty said.

The day ended with prizes and the kids receiving a mock paycheck to show off to their teachers at school, and the parents proudly watched the commercial their children created.

“One of my favorite events, ‘Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,’ is a unique experience that allows children to see a corporate environment in action,” Miller said. “We can’t wait to see the kids again.” ••