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Wood Family Funeral Service has earned the 2018 Small Business of the Year award. Pictured from left to right are Stephanie Ursua, Tehachapi News business manager; Ida Perkins, president of the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce; Sally Periman, office manager for Wood Family Funeral Service; Dolly Johnson, arrangement counselor; Karissa Drucker, receptionist; and Kim Lemons, cremation specialist.

Darla Baker / Tehachapi News

No matter who we are, when someone we love passes away, we need assistance to make sure their wishes are honored and fulfilled.

Wood Family Funeral Service not only helps in recognizing the person who has died, but also assists family members with specific arrangements, providing personalized services to those who are in the process of grieving and going through a difficult time.

As a result of the extensive help they have provided to the community, Wood Family Funeral Service has been named Small Business of the Year for 2018 by the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce and Tehachapi News.

“The Chamber is honored to recognize Wood Family Funeral Service as Tehachapi’s 2018 Small Business of the Year for their outstanding service and dedication to our community,” Chamber President Ida Perkins said.

Sally Periman, office manager for Wood Family Funeral Service, is delighted they have been selected.

“I was very excited, very happy and very proud of our staff,” she said.

She added, “We try to make our services as personal as we can for each family.” She said this includes assessing what each family needs, learning what is most important to them and determining how to help them go through the grief process.

Wood Family Funeral Service not only offers funeral services, but also help in sorting personal articles that include pictures and memorabilia. Wood Family also offers a space next to the main location on 321 W. F St., called The Woods Pavilion. This is an area where families can gather and take time to remember their loved one.

“This is where families can spend time together and relax and don’t have to rush out,” Periman said.

Wood Family Funeral Service offers planning that assures the wishes of a person are fulfilled, provides grief support to family members with online resources on their website, and searches for other ways to assess the needs of families in this difficult time.

“We care for our families and it's more than just a job for us,” said Dolly Johnson, arrangement counselor. She added, “We also want to do our best to help them get through the process.”

Wood Family Funeral Service has eight employees who work as a team and make sure the service runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Periman said all staff members care very much for the families they serve, work very hard, and go beyond the call of duty.

Wood Family Funeral Service was founded in 1993 by the Tehachapi Wood family and was purchased on March 1, 2007 by Greenlawn Mortuary in Bakersfield, still keeping it a family-run business.

Tehachapi resident and local business owner Ma Belle Ammie Graves-Fisher is another person sent a nomination form, saying good words about Wood Family Funeral Service.

Graves-Fisher wrote, “This is a very impressive small business that Tehachapi is fortunate to have! More than monetary value, I love the heart and grit of these people!” She added, “I cannot imagine the magnitude of skill their team must possess in order to facilitate across the spectrum of emotional needs that celebrates every season of life the way they do.”

In her nomination letter, Graves-Fisher commented that she has seen The Woods Pavilion being used and that they have generously allowed businesses and residents to use the facilities at a discounted rate or for free. Over the past year, this has included 20 free community events, and another three free events for fundraising purposes.

Over the past year, Wood Family has supported more than 40 businesses, nonprofits, fundraisers and other community events. Some of these include Relay for Life, Operation Shoebox, Honor Flight, Houchin Community Blood Bank, Red Cross, Family Life Pregnancy Center, Mountain Festival, St. Jude Children’s Research, Wreaths Across America and other programs, Periman said.

Wood Family will be honored at the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce Installation & Recognition Gala that will be held at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20 at Villa La Paz at the National Chavez Center, 29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Road in Keene.

Tickets to the gala cost $55 and reservations are required. Please RSVP by Friday, Jan. 12, by calling the Chamber at 661-822-4180.