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In The News


New mural at White Plains funeral home reminds residents to thrive forward

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JULY 30, 2021 - WESTCHESTER - There's a new interactive and inspirational wall in White Plains where one can even leave a message of their own."We wanted to do something to uplift our community and it's here to remind them of their personal strengths and worthiness," says Matthew Fiorillo, owner and president of Ballard-Durand Funeral Group.The Ballard-Durand Funeral home on Maple Avenue is now sporting a colorful three-panel display on its lawn."We hope our wall inspires all of us and many others to come here and take a photo and share it with the rest of the community," Fiorillo says.

Families who lost a loved one to COVID-19 can apply for funeral cost assistance

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MARCH 30, 2021 - BROOKLYN - Families who lost a loved one to COVID-19 could receive financial assistance to cover funeral costs. FEMA is offering financial assistance of up to $9,000 to help families who lost loved ones to COVID-19 recoup their funeral expenses. The agency says it will begin funeral assistance in April, and that families should start to get their paperwork together now. You’ll need: -An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death happened in the U.S. -Any receipts related to costs from the funeral home, transportation and burial plot.

Therapy dog that served families in White Plains funeral home dies unexpectedly

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MARCH 23, 2021 - WESTCHESTER - A place where families go to mourn their loved ones is now grieving a loss of their own. Ballard-Durand Funeral Home in White Plains is mourning the loss of their beloved therapy and comfort dog, Lulu. The 6-year-old goldendoodle died unexpectedly. Owner Matt Fiorillo says Lulu will be deeply missed. “People are never comfortable coming to a funeral home, and their comfort is what we strive for. And so to see a disarming, walking teddy bear, kind dog, it never got old for me to see her do her thing,” says Matthew Fiorillo, owner of Ballard-Durand Funeral Services.

Beloved therapy dog at White Plains funeral home passes away

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MARCH 21, 2021 - WHITE PLAINS - Lulu, a therapy and comfort dog for the families of Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services, unexpectedly passed away on Mar. 10. In 2015, Lulu the golden doodle, became Westchester’s first therapy dog to serve families in a funeral home. Like those used in hospitals and nursing homes, Lulu acted as a source of comfort and love in times of emotional distress. Families who requested her presence could soothe their grief by stroking her soft fur or merely enjoying her supportive companionship.

Inside a NY funeral home during the coronavirus crisis

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MAY 12, 2020 - WHITE PLAINS - If medical workers are the first responders of the coronavirus crisis, then funeral home staff may be considered the last responders. As the death toll of the pandemic has soared in hot spots across the country, funeral homes have been tasked with handling the remains of the unprecedented numbers of deceased and finding new ways to comfort their families who have to say good-bye in isolation. At the same time, they need to be vigilant about keeping themselves safe from the deadly virus. In our "Frontlines" series, we profile one of the people in the middle of this crisis.

Richard Liebson, longtime Journal News storyteller, dies at 61

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JULY 29, 2019 - WESTCHESTER - Richard Liebson, the quintessential crime-and-fires reporter, who for more than 30 years at The Journal News/lohud told the stories of police and firefighters, criminals and victims, military veterans, the down-and-out and so many unsung regular folks not unlike himself, died early Sunday at his White Plains home. He was 61. He had cancer for about two years. But Liebson didn’t want anyone to say that he battled the disease or that he was brave in the end. He saw and wrote about too much real suffering for that, and said that he himself lived a great, fulfilling life. Cancer just got him, like it got so many others.

For the troops: Local funeral home ships 450 goodie-filled stockings to Afghanistan

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DEC 27, 2018 - WHITE PLAINS - U.S. troops in Afghanistan are getting a little reminder of home and Christmas, thanks to the efforts of the Ballard-Durand Funeral home, which recently shipped 450 stockings filled with goodies to service women and men deployed at Kandahar Air Force Base. "Every year we hold our "Stockings for Soldiers" initiative, where we as the community pick up empty holiday stockings at our funeral homes in White Plains, Elmsford or Beacon and fill them. Each stocking includes a list of recommended items. It's always been a success and this year we collected over 450 stuffed stockings," said Matthew Fiorillo, Ballard-Durand's president and CEO.

White Plains funeral home to offer food at wakes

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JAN 25, 2017 - WHITE PLAINS - It's something funeral Director Matt Fiorillo says he's wanted to offer for a long time, and soon, he will. Food. "Comfort food is a big part of the grieving process, said Fiorillo, owner of the Ballard-Durand funeral homes in White Plains and Elmsford. "I've always wanted to be able to serve coffee and refreshments at viewings and funerals, and now we can." A change in state health law that went into effect Tuesday allows funeral homes to offer light fare and non-alcoholic beverages available to mourners. Fiorillo hopes to offer the new amenity in the next several weeks.

Vatican's cremation instructions: Local reaction

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OCT 26, 2016 - WHITE PLAINS - An edict published by the Vatican on Tuesday puts the Catholic Church's long-held beliefs about cremation into words to ensure the deceased's remains are treated with the same respect as the physical body. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which defends the church against heresy, echoed the church's approval of cremation in its published set of guidelines, but emphasized the need to bury all the remains in one place. That place, the congregation said, has to be a cemetery or a sacred space. The doctrine stated that the ashes cannot be scattered, kept in homes or preserved in mementos, such as jewelry. 

Lulu the therapy dog gives funeral mourners a furry shoulder to cry on

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SEPT. 16, 2016 - WHITE PLAINS - Funerals are difficult for everyone. Dogs tend to make everything a little bit better. Lulu the therapy dog is the result of these two truths. The 2-year-old goldendoodle spends her days comforting the mourners at Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services in Westchester County, New York. "She's an added source of comfort," Matthew Fiorillo, who owns the business and is Lulu's pet parent, told The Washington Post. "She has a calming presence. She's a social dog who loves people and has great instincts. She'll curl up into a ball and lay down next to an older person, or jump around with kids. She especially helps the children, since not all of them understand death.

Meet Lulu-A goldendoodle that soothes the grief-stricken

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SEPT. 19, 2016 - WHITE PLAINS - “Lulu, say a prayer,'' Matthew Fiorillo tells his 2 1/2-year-old goldendoodle. Hearing the command, Lulu, a therapy dog who comforts mourners at Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services in Westchester County, New York, puts her paws up onto the kneeler and tilts her head down. "She's an added source of comfort,'' says Fiorillo, who owns the business. "She has a calming presence. She's a social dog who loves people and has great instincts. She'll curl up into a ball and lay down next to an older person, or jump around with kids. She especially helps the children, since not all of them understand death.'' The idea of having a therapy dog in his funeral practice came to Fiorillo in 2013 after a storm hit New York and he found himself stuck, like many others, in the Miami airport, unable to get home.

This funeral home therapy dog is helping grieving families heal, one smile at a time

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JULY 5, 2016 - WHITE PLAINS - Everyone deals with grief differently, and for many it's all about the healing process. At Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services in White Plains, NY, they understand the importance of honoring lost loved ones, and in order to help grieving families heal, they've brought in a special helper. Lulu, an adorable two-year-old Goldendoodle, has been the funeral home's certified therapy dog since May 2015. Dogs like Lulu offer a certain healing power; called a "Comfort Companion," she provides affection and support to those in need. "Humans need to touch," funeral home president Matthew Fiorillo told TODAY. "Even just petting her can be a subtle distraction from the tremendous amount of grief people are going through."

Funeral home therapy dog brings comfort and unexpected smiles to grieving families

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JULY 5, 2016 - WHITE PLAINS - After she lost her beloved brother Stephen just days before his 25th birthday, Chelsea Sules thought she’d never smile again. But she ended up finding healing and comfort in an unexpected place: Lulu, a funeral home’s therapy dog. “I walked into the funeral home and Lulu came running toward me and my sister,” said Sules, 26, whose brother died on June 17. “We (were shocked) when we started giggling. She immediately started to comfort us just by her presence alone.” The affectionate goldendoodle became the newest “staff member” at Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services in May 2015.

Funeral home gets a therapy dog to help clients cope with grief

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JULY 5, 2016 - WHITE PLAINS - Experiencing the loss of a loved one is devastating. It is the most stressful, disorienting and agonizing event we can suffer through. For some, the process of planning and attending the memorial services for their deceased companion is more than they can bear. One White Plains, NY funeral home has found a way to ease that burden, if only for a short while.

Lulu the funeral therapy dog brings smiles to mourners: ‘She just knows how to go to people'

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JUNE 24, 2016 - WHITE PLAINS - Man's best friend has always had an uncanny knack for providing humans with comfort and love when they need it most. Lulu the funeral therapy dog is no exception, and the sweet pooch's approach to therapy has helped a ease the pain of losing a loved one for a number of mourners. A favorite member of the staff at Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services in White Plains, New York, the 2-year-old Goldendoodle offers loving nuzzles and affection to anyone she senses in pain during funeral services..

Joseph Lemm: 'He's a neighbor, and he's a hero'

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DEC 30, 2015 - WEST HARRISON - Using her walker, Angela Amodeo slowly made her way through the crowd Tuesday outside St. Anthony of Padua Church and began walking home. "I didn't know him, but he's a neighbor, and he's a hero," said Amodeo, a parishioner who waited almost 45 minutes to attend the wake for NYPD Detective Joseph Lemm, who was killed in Afghanistan this month. "I wanted to represent the Harrison Neighborhood Association. This is our church, and our community, and it's important that we offer our sympathies to his family."

Jospeh Lemm 'really was Superman'

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DEC 28, 2015 - WHITE PLAINS - A somber ceremony was held at Stewart Air National Guard base Monday afternoon as the body of New York City Police Detective Joseph Lemm, of West Harrison, returned to New York in advance of his wake and funeral. "He really was Superman," Maj. John Torres, chaplain for the Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing said during the hour-long 'ramp ceremony, citing Lemm's nickname. "It's hard not to smile when you recall his antics. It's harder still to believe that he's gone... He embodied honor to the end."

A new green trend: Natural burial

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NOV 6, 2015 - WHITE PLAINS - You've switched to energy efficient light bulbs. You've installed solar panels. But you probably have not taken the green-living lifestyle as far as it can go. Talk about greener pastures. Among those who are attuned to environmental sustainability, some look for a way to be greener, even after death. Natural burial — the interment of the dead in a simple coffin or shroud without the use of embalming fluids, allowing natural decomposition of the body — is gaining traction.

Funeral homes increasingly using dogs to comfort mourners

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JUNE 14, 2015 - WHITE PLAINS - Sandy Del Duca was mourning the death of her father when Lulu, a curly haired goldendoodle, came bounding down the stairs at the Ballard-Durand funeral home. Del Duca thought Lulu was simply the pet of funeral home owner Matthew Fiorillo, who she was meeting to make arrangements. But the dog also works there - one of an increasing number of dogs being offered by American funeral homes to comfort mourners. It didn't take long for Del Duca to be won over. "That dog looked into my eyes and I was done," Del Duca said. "She seemed to know just what I needed. A funeral is a funeral, it's not a great thing. But that dog gave the service a family atmosphere and made it more of a celebration."

Therapy dog Lulu joins White Plains funeral home staff

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JULY 7, 2015 - WHITE PLAINS - Service dogs have long been used in health care settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and universities. Now, a White Plains funeral home has found a new therapeutic use for man's best friend. Ballard-Durand Funeral and Cremation Services, 2 Maple Ave., has added Lulu, a certified therapy dog, to its Westchester County funeral homes. "She's a priceless gift for our staff and the families we serve. We're partners," said Lulu's owner, Matthew Fiorillo, CEO of Ballard-Durand Funeral Homes, in a statement. "She's wonderful and extremely curious. "She's allowed to wander anywhere in the funeral home; we have little jars of treats in several areas to engage her."

Funeral homes increasingly using dogs to comfort mourners

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JUNE 14, 2015 - WHITE PLAINS - Sandy Del Duca was mourning the death of her father when Lulu, a curly haired goldendoodle, came bounding down the stairs at the Ballard-Durand funeral home. Del Duca thought Lulu was simply the pet of funeral home owner Matthew Fiorillo, who she was meeting to make arrangements. But the dog also works there - one of an increasing number of dogs being offered by American funeral homes to comfort mourners. It didn’t take long for Del Duca to be won over. “That dog looked into my eyes and I was done,” Del Duca said. “She seemed to know just what I needed. A funeral is a funeral, it’s not a great thing. But that dog gave the service a family atmosphere and made it more of a celebration.”>

Meet Lulu, a White Plains funeral home's comfort dog

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MAY 30, 2015 - WHITE PLAINS - Sometimes, you just want to pet a dog. They're known as man's best friend because of their unwavering loyalty and affection for humans. Some are trained to help the disabled in a myriad of ways. Others assist authorities in sniffing out bombs, detecting drugs and identifying arson fires. Now, at the Ballard-Durand Funeral Home in White Plains, a dog is helping people mourn the loss of their loved ones. "Lulu," a year-old retriever/poodle mix known as a "goldendoodle," has been the official, specially trained therapy dog for almost a month, providing comfort and maybe bringing a little smile to those in grief.

Ghost riders in the sky: Funeral home offers motorcycle hearse

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OCTOBER 5, 2014 - WHITE PLAINS - Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services was featured on the Reno Gazette Journal in a news piece highlighting our motorcycle hearse, which is an option for families to honor a loved one. See the link below to view the news feature that was aired on October 5th, 2014.

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