Kelly Martin, the Family Services Counselor at Fernwood.

We spend just about every day of the week extolling the innovation, resilience and creativity of our business and nonprofit communities.

But because so many of the key players at many of those businesses in the 94941 also play critical roles in town well beyond their own fish bowl – serving as ambassadors, hosting and organizing our After Hours events, volunteering for various roles at our major events or serving on our board to help our team stay focused on the north star of vitality – we get endless moments to celebrate so many incredible people within the Chamber.

Kelly Martin, the Family Services Counselor at Fernwood Cemetery and Funeral Home, is our Ambassador of the Month for April and the latest to get the spotlight. She’ll also be our host at our EMV After Hours event on April 16th, which serves as a showcase of all the goodies Mill Valley Music Fest attendees can expect at the big weekend.

“I’m enjoying it immensely,” Martin says of being an ambassador. “It’s my day off and I literally volunteer my time to go and help – it makes me smile. I’m in an industry when there’s often not a lot to smile about. It can be very intense. You are helping people through what is the hardest time of their lives.”

Martin, who has worked at Fernwood for three years and was at another cemetery for three years prior, says she’s been trained to read a room, knowing that people arrive at Fernwood already upset. “It can be difficult. My job is to make it smooth and not complicated.”

Martin is on call three nights a week, and gets calls in the middle of the night. After the hardest part is over, Martin looks at the “how did we do” responses. “If the respondent says that it wasn’t complicated, then I’ve done my job,” she says. “I go to these services to and it’s so meaningful when it goes as planned. And every denomination wants and deserves something different.  

Martin, a basketball star in high school, grew up in South San Francisco and says got lucky to find a place in Mill Valley when she transitioned to Fernwood. “I couldn’t do 19th Avenue one more day. Now my commute is two minutes. 

An avid bowler, Martin still bowls in Daly City at the bowling alley that opened when she was a kid. She and her son are now on the same bowling team, and she’s a huge basketball fan.

She’s also an avid live music fan, having seen New Edition, Janet Jackson and Madonna in recent years. 

Martin’s prior job was at Samsung Electronics selling memory modules, commuting to San Jose everyday from San Francisco. After too many layoffs, she “took some time off, went to Miami for four months then Italy and France, and then my sister passed away. That changed everything. I had just taken another electronics job when my sister passed. I was meeting with the funeral director regarding my sister’s funeral, I got a call from a funeral home for a sales job- this came through a recruiter. I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. It was four miles from my house and I just knew that’s where I was supposed to be. That’s how (and when) I made the switch from tech.”

“A lot of people feel weird around death,” Martin says. “When I started I was working for a cemetery, not a funeral home, so I never saw the bodies because the caskets were closed and locked. By the time I got to Fernwood, five years later, I felt comfortable with the funeral side and open caskets. I don’t believe in ghosts. I believe in energy and a person’s energy goes back to energy. I’m more scared of the living than the dead.”

Martin urges families to make pre-arrangements. “People think it is morbid but it’s actually the most responsible thing you can do for your family,” she says. “You get what you want and your family is relieved from having to navigate during their time of grief. Our most cost-effective funeral with burial is $25k. If you finalize and pay for it ahead of time, it’s considerate and there’s no running around for your family.  Additionally, instead of using life insurance for a burial, it can be used for life, which is what it’s supposed to be used for. 


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