Margie was a very much loved member of the Fuller family of Launceston but, on 9 October 2014, she died unexpectedly, leaving behind her two sisters, Jenny and Pam.
Margie Fuller was a vivacious, inquisitive, gentle woman who loved her life and always lived in the moment. In 2014, when she was 66, Margie died.
Margie’s sister, Jenny, says, ‘Margie couldn’t have lived her life, her way without her support workers. They treated their work as so much more than a job – it was a long-term labour of love. They cared for Margie as a unique person, above and beyond any reasonable expectation. They taught, helped and encouraged her to experience all life had to offer, and pursue her particular interests. They treated her as a dear friend, even inviting her into their homes. In short, Margie’s support workers consistently and unreservedly gave of themselves and this, more than anything, helped Margie live her life to the full.’
The sisters recognise that there are many people working in the disability sector who are driven by love and compassion. In choosing their careers, money, thanks and recognition barely rate. With all its joys and its frustrations, they approach their work with pleasure and humility. They transform the lives of the people they support.
To recognise and celebrate those who selflessly support people with disability, Margie’s family has created the Li-Ve Fuller grant. It is designed to enhance the aspects of care that were most meaningful to their sister.
Our parents raised us with the message that we were lucky to have Margie in our family and we included her in every activity that the family undertook. She was loving and tender-hearted, and with her spontaneous smile and readiness for a hug she was truly loved by all who knew her. She didn't have a mean bone in her body, living for the moment and enjoying whatever pleasures it brought her. She was always sensitive to the moods and quirks of others.
Margie also had a great sense of humour. Her skilful mimicry of laughs and voice tones often reduced us to helpless laughter. She had a strong musical sense and a remarkable memory for tunes, faces and places. Stubborn when challenged to leave her comfort zone, she could quickly be jollied from ready tears back to her usual cheerful state. She never bore a grudge. She was our shining example of uncomplicated good nature.
In the 1940s and early 50s there were no facilities for intellectually disabled children in Launceston. Our parents worked tirelessly with other families to raise money to build St Georges School. Next came a sheltered workshop and a respite centre, which eventually became a permanent residence for adults.
After our parents died, Margie was invited to become a resident and there she lived happily for the next 30 years. Some of the staff and residents knew her for all those years. She liked the routine and security of life there. Staff encouraged her to help with tasks in the kitchen and she was enthusiastic about the outings and celebrations organised for the residents.
Margie enjoyed regular outings and holidays with the family, especially delighting in endless games of ‘balloon’ with her two beloved nephews. It was always hard for us to take her back to her home after a family get-together but it was a mark of how comfortable she was at her accommodation to see how happily she left us!
We express our gratitude for the love and care given to Margie by setting up this grant. We hope that those who work to support people with disabilities will feel encouraged to gain new skills to enhance the lives of their clients.
~ Jenny Fuller and Pam Bretz
Margie’s sisters, Jenny and Pam, know the big difference even one person can make in the lives of others. From watching their parents work tirelessly to enhance the lives of people living with disability, to seeing their sister blossom in residential support, they know that making the system better starts with the hard work of individual people – and they want to honour that work.
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Li-Ve Tasmania supports the Li-Ve Fuller grant through administrative support and maintaining its web presence. Successful applicants are selected by an independent panel made up of Margie’s two sisters and two other people with experience in the disability field.