What’s Your Legacy?

Sharing messages and memories near the end of life

By Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice

The act of creating a legacy can provide many benefits to you and your loved ones.

In fact, reminiscing with loved ones – which is often part of the legacy process – can provide mental-health benefits for both older adults and their family caregivers. It can relieve stress, encourage social interaction, and reduce depression symptoms.

Leaving a legacy allows you to communicate your stories, views, values, and commitments to those who matter most to you, and deepens your connection to your family, past and present.

For your loved ones, your legacy makes the most of your remaining time together, by connecting through your legacy gift and will allow y our loved ones to continue to feel your love and caring, even after your death by remembering who you were, the contributions you made, and what was important to you.

Common types of legacy projects:

  • Create a memory album. It can be anything from a small collection of meaningful photos, to an extensive array of items: pictures, personal notes, ticket stubs, event programs, cherished recipes, certificates, and the like. You can share fond memories with friends and family as you write captions for the items.
  • Write a memory journal. Ask loved ones to help you write down stories, memories, and thoughts about your life. This process will provide a chance to connect deeply with those you hold dear, in addition to leaving a legacy that’s as personal as you’d like it to be.
  • Write letters. These can be personalized to each recipient: reflecting on your time together, sharing happy memories, expressing your feelings for the person, and offering any advice, hopes or wishes. Similarly, an “ethical will” is a letter to family and friends that describes your accomplishments, beliefs, and wishes.
  • Create audio or video recordings. Personalized recordings allow you to express your thoughts, memories, and feelings in your own voice—a precious gift for those you leave behind.
  • Make a shadow box. Include cherished items that represent who you are, including your interests, activities, and the things that are most important to you. These keepsakes will bring smiles and treasured memories each time your loved ones see them.

For more information about leaving a legacy, visit, or call (856) 596-1600 – We’re available 24 hours a day to help .


For more information, contact Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice by visiting or by call 1-800-596-8550.



As you drive past the McGuinness Funeral Home on Egg Harbor Road in Sewell, the first thing you notice is the special family garden known as “Marie’s Memory Garden”, named in honor of the Founder’s Wife – Marie McGuinness – and dedicated to the surviving family members of all those who have had a need for McGuinness’ services. They also have a pet memorial garden, where family pets are remembered and honored – all as part of the holistic healing philosophy stressed by the McGuinness Funeral Home. While not necessary for the operation of a modern day funeral home in Southern New Jersey, these are a few of the special features that help make McGuinness stand apart from ordinary funeral homes.

Founded by James McGuinness and his wife Marie Schultes McGuinness in 1951, the McGuinness Funeral Home started with a single vision – to create a “caring atmosphere of unique and compassionate memorial services that would be welcoming and warm for all community members, no matter their background”. McGuinness’ children Kathy and Bill continued to run the funeral home after their parent’s passing, and today, the McGuinness team has grown – but continues to remain focused on the founder’s unique principal that prioritizes the comforts of surviving family members over the profits of unnecessary services.

According to Richard Bonczak, General Manager of the funeral home, McGuinness has been providing personalized and customizable memorial services for families throughout the greater Clayton, Washington Township and Woodbury areas for over 60 years. Bonczak, who is also a licensed funeral director and cremation specialist, joined McGuinness in August, 1998 as a member of the funeral director staff. After 20 years of serving the needs of area families through McGuinness, he takes his role as a family advisor, counselor and chief comforter as seriously and personally as he does his role of raising his two children. Bonczak and his wife Judi live in Mt. Ephraim, and he considers his role at McGuinness to be much more than a job – it is a calling – to “help families in their greatest time of need”.

Working closely along side Bonczak is Elisha Elliott, Community Outreach and Aftercare Coordinator. Her job is a unique one. While not a licensed funeral director, Elliott’s role is sometimes more critical than that of a director. She tends to the personal and emotional needs of the bereaved. “I do not sell funeral services, coordinate church services, burial details or transportation – I help care for the needs of families”, she said, “and we do so for as long as the families need grief support from our professionals”. We met with Elisha as she was putting the final touches on that week’s “Tea at Ten on Tuesday” program, which offers recently bereaved family members an opportunity to gather for tea, to share experiences and support, and learn from professionals how to deal with the complexities that sometimes follow the loss of a loved one. McGuinness also offers a “Butter Fly Release” – a memorial service dedicated to celebrating the lives of those who have been lost, culminating in the release of butterflies, provided to families by Elliott and the McGuinness staff.

“McGuinness offers something else that is unique to any funeral homes in the area”, Elliott said. It’s called “ShareLife”. ShareLife is a highly personalized memorial service that allows the bereaved an opportunity to recreate the amazing story of their loved one in a room of remembrance, devoted specifically to their unique needs. The ShareLife experience starts with a projection of special scenes and photos which showcase moments of your loved one’s life, allowing family and friends to appreciate and reflect on their best memories together. These memories, partnered with a favorite song, soothing scents, and sound effects to enhance the memorial experience, help family members and friends to celebrate and remember the good times shared. “It’s not one thing, it’s everything that we do to make your loved one’s celebration of life personal and memorable”, Elliott said. “We believe that your loved one was a unique person – so it’s a way to make sure that their memorial service just as special.”

For more information about the personalized services available through McGuinness Funeral Home, visit McGuinness at, or contact Elisha Elliott at (856) 582-3800. McGuinness is located at 573 Egg Harbor Road, Washington Township, Sewell.

Updated January 6, 2019 

This section is dedicated to remembering Clayton residents and their beloved family members who have passed during the preceding month, as well as to all those who departed and are missed and remembered by their surviving loved ones.

We will run last month’s obituary information when provided by local families and funeral homes at no cost to the survivors.

We also offer Memorial ads at a nominal cost, so family members and organizations wishing to remember the life and passing of someone special can do so. Contact us for more information at 856 243 2499.

Information about the passing of Clayton’s active and veteran military persons will be reported as a service to them, their families and our nation – always, at no cost. Photos can also be included if provided by family members. Photos should be in jpg format and no  less than 200 dpi. Photos will be presented in black and white format only.