Fuller Village Residents Reach New Heights Climbing Mount Washington

Taking Fuller Village’s theme, “Live a Fuller Life,” to new heights was done literally by four of the community’s residents who spent two days climbing to the top of Mount Washington, the highest point on the East coast.

In 2023, Nancy Wilbur, Mary Ann Millsap, Jane Cotter, Barbara Cocci, Irene Brannelly and Nancy Wilbur trained by hiking over 40 miles of trails, spending approximately 200 collective hours in Fuller Village’s fitness center during which time they probably completed about 3,742 squats. As Mary Ann noted, “with proper training and support, we elders can do most anything, even climb a mountain!.”

As members of the Fuller Village Adventure Club, formed by Jen DeLeonardis, the community’s Fitness Director, these women, along with Jen and her partner, Professor Robert Rennan hiked five miles during the two-day climb which included a 3,250 -foot gain in elevation and an overnight stay in bunk beds at the Lake of the Clouds hut before reaching the 6,288’ summit on August 4, 2023.

Each person carried their own clothing, equipment, water and snacks in their backpacks. As Jen noted, a challenge like this requires both mental and physical preparation. Maintaining and building on a solid fitness base is critical including cardiovascular, strength and endurance training. But an individual’s determination and desire are most important, noted Jen.

Barbara said, “I remain astounded by the teamwork and spirit exhibited 24/7 by our group. I have played on many teams but never have I experienced such camaraderie, generosity, and kindness over and over.”

Stopping for a group photo on day one of the climb were (left to right): Nancy Wilbur, Mary Ann Millsap, Jane Cotter, Barbara Cocci, Jen DeLeonardis and Irene Brannelly.

Although Nancy was unable to make the complete two-day climb for personal reasons, she had trained with her fellow climbers for months so after climbing two miles on the first day, she took the cog railway to the top on the second day to celebrate her fellow hikers’ achievement.

Although the weather on the second day’s climb as they approached the summit included dense fog, precipitation, windchills around 30 degrees a single clap of thunder, the overall experience and sense of accomplishment was, in a word, “fabulous,” Jen said.

Jen and her partner Robert are no strangers to mountain climbing. They have successfully climbed the top 100 peaks in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, many of which were finished during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. “During that time, many people were forced to shelter in place, but I was fortunate to be able to ‘shelter in nature,’” Jen remarked.

Jen and Robert’s experience and guidance were appreciated by all the hikers. “We had a wonderful coach and assistant coach. Jen always believed we could do it even when we may have doubted it and Robert was always ready to offer a hand up, explain and teach. It was an honor to share this once in a lifetime experience with such kind, supportive and patient people,” commented Jane.

Celebrating reaching the Mount Washington summit were (left to right): Robert Rennan, Barbara Cocci, Mary Ann Millsap, Jane Cotter, Irene Brannelly and Fuller Village Fitness Director Jen DeLeonardis.

Irene echoed Jane’s feelings about the experience. “Did I ever think that I would be climbing Mount Washington? Definitely not! Will we ever sleep in a hut with ninety people, no electricity, no hot water or climb the second half of the mountain in the rain, fog, and fierce wind? Probably not. However, there is one thing I can say, we have all formed a bond that will last a lifetime and we will never forget this phenomenal adventure.

Nancy Wilbur, who participated in all the training and did the first day of the climb, noted, “I was totally delighted to join my fellow hikers and walk the trail with them the first day. I got to be with the group and really participate. I also did the hike that was right for me.” She then joined the group at the summit on the second day taking the cog railway to the top. A ride that all the hikers thoroughly enjoyed on the trip down.

What’s next for the Fuller Village Adventure Club’s 10 members? While no plans have yet been set for Summer of 2024, the Fuller Village hikers are eagerly anticipating a new challenge to strive towards in the coming months.

Leading Age Academy Provides Innovative Training for Fuller Village Team

Milton, MA –After working for more than 30 years in senior housing, including Vi Senior Living in Maryland, Sherburne Commons in Nantucket and Village at Laurel Lake in western Massachusetts, Andrea Doherty thought she had seen it all.  From skilled nursing and memory care to assisted living and, most recently, independent living at Fuller Village in Milton, she brings a wealth of knowledge to her position as Marketing & Operations Director at Fuller Village where she has worked since 2016.

So when Fuller Village Executive Director Deborah Felton offered Andrea the opportunity to apply for The Leadership Academy (TLA), a 10-month intensive program conducted by LeadingAge, which culminates with a “graduation” at the Annual Convention, Andrea was excited about the opportunity if she was accepted.

After just a few weeks into the TLA program, Andrea realized that while, in fact, she did know much of what was being done in senior housing, the TLA provided a much broader exposure to the gaps in the field of aging services, combined with learning about reflective leadership practices to learn how to have the most impact as a leader on Fuller Village’s management team.

When asked about the benefits of The Leadership Academy, Andrea said it was very impactful to be a member of the Academy during this unprecedented time of a pandemic. It provided a broad viewpoint of aging services as an industry across the country, not only for the clients we serve, but also all the front-line workers who serve our clients.   “It was a fabulous  opportunity and forum to be with other non-profit senior care providers throughout the United States to share ideas on how they approach serving seniors at all levels with the most advanced care and social programs during one of the most challenging times in recent history,” Andrea remarked. “While it’s important to be dancing on the dance floor, it’s equally important to see the bigger picture from the balcony,” she added. The Leadership Academy provided a forum for that “bigger picture.”

Deborah Felton feels so strongly about the importance of the work LeadingAge does for the senior living and aging services industry that she had two other Fuller Village staff attend the Annual LeadingAge Conference in Atlanta this fall with Andrea.

“To remain a leader in this industry and to provide the most innovative thinking and social environment for our residents, it’s important for members of our team to see and hear what other leaders in senior housing are doing around the country,” Deborah said.  “LeadingAge provides that perspective and insight that can’t be learned just by doing our jobs each day,” she added.

Joey DiGiano, Operations and Executive Assistant and Daniel McGarr, Project Coordinator at Fuller Village, attended the four-day conference in Atlanta with Andrea.  For all three, it was an opportunity for them to learn and see what other senior providers and communities in the United States are doing to meet the needs of today’s seniors and prepare them for future generations.   “There were discussions about the latest technology to assist seniors, the topic of ageism and its evolving role in society, and ways to attract and retain staff, so you took something away from every session,” Joey said.

“As a leader in the senior housing industry, we need to be more proactive and not just reactive to the needs of today’s seniors,” Andrea remarked.  Fuller Village’s involvement in LeadingAge, and our exposure to what other industry leaders are doing throughout the country by participating in The Leadership Academy, will help keep us in the forefront in the future,” she concluded.

Fuller Village selects Best of Care Inc. as preferred home care provider

Milton and Quincy, Mass., December 27, 2017 – Family-owned home care agency Best of Care Inc. has been selected by independent senior living community Fuller Village as its preferred provider of private-pay home care services to Fuller Village residents. The agency began providing services at Fuller Village on December 18, 2017.

Fuller Village chose Best of Care because it offered a high level of quality service that its residents expect, according to Fuller Village Executive Director Deborah Felton. Best of Care’s onsite home care aides allow Fuller Village residents to add personalized assistance services as they wish, paying only for what they need, when they need it.

“We wanted to partner with an agency that would be responsive to residents’ diverse in-home care needs and in tune with our community’s values,” said Felton. “Best of Care came highly recommended; we’ve been impressed with their approach and philosophy.“

“We are excited to expand our private pay business into the Fuller Village community,” said Best of Care President and COO Kevin Smith. “There are many things that connect us: We are both local, independent, non-franchise organizations. Our personalized approach can support residents of the community at any stage in their continuum of care - whether it is arranging service upon hospital discharge, delivering 24/7 care or simply providing an hour of housekeeping.

“Best of Care is an on-site resource not only for residents of the Fuller Village community, but also their family members,” Smith added. “Beyond home care service delivery, we also plan to present an interesting series of programming including blood pressure clinics, wellness prevention initiatives and family caregiver support groups.”

About Best of Care

Best of Care is a family-owned and operated home care agency headquartered in Quincy, Mass. that has delivered home care services to Massachusetts communities since 1981. Best of Care provides an extensive array of home care services to over 100 towns and cities throughout Greater Boston, the South Shore, the South Coast, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard – with offices in Quincy, Raynham, New Bedford, and South Dennis. Services include personal care, homemakers and companions, hospice care, nursing care management and specialty services as they relate to dementia, psychiatric and acquired brain injury care.  Best of Care Inc. was named a 2014 Family Business of the Year finalist by the Family Business Association of Massachusetts.  President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Smith serves as Vice President, Executive Committee Member, Board Member and Technology Committee Chair of the Home Care Aide Council of Massachusetts.  Visit www.bestofcareinc.com, follow on Twitter @bestofcare and Facebook www.facebook.com/bestofcare