Growing Small Miracles at Full Life

Dave Budd

Dave BuddIn the nearly 40-year history of Full Life Care, the agency has had exactly two executive directors. One was Betty Sanders, who started the program with a small group of friends and supporters. And many of that group, like the Gaffney family, are still involved with the agency today. In the beginning, the organization was solely a labor of love, existing largely on donations, grants, volunteer labor and a corps of dedicated individuals. Among them was Nora Gibson, who would become executive director in the early 1990s. During Nora’s tenure, Full Life grew steadily into the organization that today has a dozen different programs serving 3,000 individuals and their families across two counties. It has been an amazing accomplishment, especially in light of the challenges inherent in serving our clients, most of whom rely on Medicaid and charitable donations to cover the cost of their care.

But beyond our leadership, there is another secret to our success.

Do you remember our blizzard of 2008? It closed down Seattle for a week right before Christmas. During that storm, Full Life received a desperate call from another agency: one of their home care employees was unable to reach their client, Richard, who was isolated in his home and in serious need of help. Lucy Mugo rose to the occasion and made her way to Richard’s home every day throughout that storm. And beyond. You see, the client was so impressed with Lucy that he asked her to become his ongoing caregiver, and every single day for the past decade, Lucy or another caregiver from Full Life has been at Richard’s home to provide him the care essential for his health and well-being.

We recently learned that Richard passed away. This was not completely unexpected; his health had been in decline for some time, but it was still emotional news for our staff. Still, we were consoled to know that Full Life had made it possible for Richard to live in his own home through the end of his life. That was a great gift for which he was very grateful. Lucy recalled to me today her special memories of Richard: “He was always so gracious and so optimistic.” I could see just how deeply she felt towards this man whom she had “rescued” all those years ago.

Lucy, and so many of our other colleagues, are what really make Full Life Care the success that it is. They are the reason that we so often hear from families, clients and other long-term care professionals: “I love Full Life.” 

You know what? We love it too!

Like Nora, and Betty before her, my goal at Full Life is this: to do my best to help grow the resources to support Lucy and our other 450 colleagues so that they can continue to perform small miracles every day. They provide life-sustaining care to people whom they treat as an extension of their own family. And that is one thing that has not changed since the Betty Sanders years—it is still a labor of love. As long as we continue to cultivate our love for our work and the clients we serve, I know Full Life Care will grow and thrive well into the future.