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Full Life, UW nursing students team up for wellness

UW nursing students Annie McPhee and Anna Juchau wash feet at Barton Place.

Over millennia, the act of washing another person’s feet is recognized as a ritual of kindness and humility by Judeo-Christian cultures around the world. With roots in ancient practice and spiritual teachings, the act simultaneously represents respect for the recipient and grace for the giver.

That simple act of kindness took place over and over again on a recent afternoon at Barton Place as Anna Juchau and Annie McPhee invited residents to sit and have them cleanse their feet.

The Seattle Housing Authority high rise in the Rainier Beach neighborhood was the location for a Community Wellness Meet and Greet Thursday, November 14, organized under a continuing partnership between Full Life Care and University of Washington nursing students.

One by one, residents removed shoes and socks and relaxed as students Anna and Annie happily scrubbed and massaged and oiled. The encounters gave the students opportunities to ask residents about their health and well-being and make friendly conversation.

A lot to know

Foot care wasn’t the only wellness offering available in the apartment building’s community room. Full Life Care representatives were on hand with information on other health questions and to check blood pressures, as well answer community resource and housing questions. There were free goodies, too – toothbrushes and other oral health items, healthy snacks and drinks and staff ready with open ears and answers.

Barton Place is one of dozens of Seattle Housing Authority communities where Full Life provides service coordination and housing support services. Lucy Mugo, Full Life Service Coordinator at Barton Place, said the 95 residents range in age from 30 to 85 and come from an array of backgrounds and nations, including Vietnam, Cambodia and many East African nations.

“There is a wide variety here,” Lucy said. “All kinds of people. And we serve them all.”

Thursday’s event was part of the students’ course work. Other nursing students also partner with Full Life on other projects throughout the community, said their teacher, UW School of Nursing’s Tamara Cyhan Cunitz.

The idea of hosting the foot washing and health fair was inspired by similar services offered last February at the Garfield Community Center when the city of Seattle opened a number of temporary, emergency homeless shelters following record-setting snowfalls.

An act of kindness

While there were a variety of services available at Barton Place on Thursday, the foot washing was the centerpiece activity. And it wasn’t just a luxury service. Feet can reveal a lot of information about a person’s overall health, including circulation issues, diabetes, dietary issues, anemia, arthritis and more.

Perhaps just as importantly, the act of washing another person’s feet is an expression of human respect and humility as ancient as spirituality itself. That symbolism was unmistakable Thursday afternoon.

“And it just feels so good!” smiled resident Leon Griffin.

See more photos of the event here: https://bit.ly/2O3KjZ1

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