In 2007, after working as a funeral director, embalmer and branch manager for a funeral company for several years, Stéphanie Côté decided she was ready to take her career in a new direction. Feeling, more strongly than ever, the deep satisfaction of serving people in mourning, she set up her own company, Voluntas commémoration inc.
The mother of two young children (two and four years old at the time) set up a home office to start with, while she was finding her target clientele. She signed partnership agreements so that she could offer a full range of funeral services, performing most tasks herself – client meetings, decedent care, room arrangements and funeral direction.
She also served as a volunteer on various committees with Partage-Action, the West Island Palliative Care Residence, Femmes d’ici and Outstanding Seniors.
In 2009, Stéphanie’s husband and business partner, Denis Marcoux, joined her to embark on a new adventure. The couple were asked to serve as grief support facilitators with the West Island Palliative Care Residence, an experience that helped to deepen their understanding of bereavement and fine-tune their approach to serving clients.
In 2010, Stéphanie and Denis opened their funeral boutique in the Place Kirkland shopping centre on St. Charles Boulevard in Kirkland, near the dry cleaner, the cruise centre, restaurants and the NOVA second-hand store. The couple soon became part of the daily lives of local residents who were running errands or meeting friends for lunch. It didn’t take long for people to feel comfortable coming in and asking questions. Some found this new approach inspiring, some found it surprising – but they felt free to come back when there was a death in the family or to find information on end-of-life issues. In this location, decorated like a family room in an ordinary home, Stéphanie and Denis meet with clients to plan funerals or take care of pre-arrangements. A selection of urns crafted by local artisans and related products at reasonable prices are available to make things easier.
In 2012, after reconnecting with Stéphanie at a friend’s mother’s funeral, Carol-Lynn Chayer joined the team. A skilled coordinator, she welcomes clients with compassion and a touch of humour. Her presence in the boutique and at different types of gatherings has helped Voluntas to grow.
In 2013, Julie Grammond, a student and apprentice embalmer, came to Voluntas for training. She joined the team in the spring of 2014. Her attention to detail, active listening and compassion have made her a key member of the team as they continue to provide quality services to a growing clientele.
Since the very start, the Voluntas team has been asked to direct funerals in various houses of worship and to coordinate many touching and unique events – some simple, some more elaborate – in a variety of splendid settings, including the Fritz Community Centre, Tadja Hall, Trestler House, and the St. Lawrence Yacht Club.
In 2016-2017, Voluntas will continue to earn the confidence of our community and hold fast to our mission of providing incomparable service and taking care of our clients’ needs. The next step is opening a second branch where we can offer additional services, such as a multifunctional room for gatherings, facilities for decedent care, and a broader range of ecological options.