Answering the call

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Jenna Wainer with her husband, Brian, and daughter Pepper. She is the funeral director and owner of Morgan's Funeral Home in Princeton and Lakeland Funeral Home in Eddyville.

Four years ago, Jenna Wainer was living in Arizona with her husband and working as an architect. But a phone call from her parents about a Princeton funeral home for sale changed their lives.

"Brian and I laugh, we say it was a God thing," said Wainer, who is originally from Carlisle County. "We were happy where we were, but we decided to come meet Rick Morgan, former owner, and the second we met him, we knew. It was kind of like it just fit."

"Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith with God and we did. He knew more than we did that we needed to be in Princeton."

Wainer, 33, is now funeral director and owner of Morgan's Funeral Home in Princeton and Lakeland Funeral Home in Eddyville.

"I kind of wear a lot of different hats," she said. "I meet with families at their time of need to walk them through celebrations they would want."

"We try to let the family guide us and tell us what they want. If they ever come to a point where they need help making a decision, we step in and tell them what would be best for their situation."

She also works funerals and visitations, helps with cosmetics and occasionally drives the hearse.

"I enjoy going out to the cemetery with families because it is the last moment with their loved ones," Wainer said. "I also do a lot of the marketing and event planning."

Overall, she enjoys her work, and recognizes the significance to community members.

"Every day is different," Wainer said. "While you don't do it to get gratification or to change people's lives, you truly feel like that when you've helped someone in their most difficult days."

She said it's amazing the trust that can be built by guiding people through difficult times.

"There are a lot of families who don't know what to do during these times and you walk away knowing you did something good for somebody," Wainer said. "That is something Brian and I did not expect to get out of this at all."

But it wasn't always that way, she pointed out.

"The Morgans have been here for 100-plus years and they've done an amazing job and you hear that throughout the community," Wainer said. "When Brian and I first moved here, people were scared of change. We were even scared of change."

"We came in and had never done the job and it took time for us to adjust. It can also be challenging to be on call with a family at home, though this job is something that we love."

Wainer has also had to come to terms with being part of dark times for people struggling with the loss of loved ones.

"When I see somebody at the grocery store, I can immediately see it on their face that I make them remember that day," Wainer said. "That's a challenge I always face. I try and bring hope to people and not just be a bad memory for them."

She said she hopes people see how genuine she and her husband are at their work.

"We genuinely care about every family and love what we do," Wainer said. "Our hearts are always in the right place. The Morgans family was that way and we hope to be that way, too."

Along with working at the funeral homes, Wainer is a Chamber of Commerce member, active in her church, and is part of Ignite Caldwell. She has helped a few local businesses update their marketing packages with new logos.

"I hope I can one day be a role model for young ladies through my relationship with God," Wainer said. "If you allow Him to guide you, even with your career, He can bring a lot of joy to you."

Wainer encourages women to be brave in leadership roles.

"Choose what you truly care about and what you truly feel you will make an impact doing and go for it," she said.

"In leadership, don't be afraid to be yourself. When I first started, I was scared to do that but once I stayed true to myself and who I was, I built more confidence in myself and that helped me to reach my goals."