‘People need people is woman’s motto’

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

Ruby Fuller has a very large heart for people . “People need people,” she said in a recent interview about her personal outreach to people in need in the Selma area.

Fuller, who has worked for the Edmundite Missions for 38 years, summarized her philosophy of life: “As long as the blood is red and there’s a need for help, I can help. This I want to do and my living shall not be in vain.”

From the early 1960s until 1983 she was employed

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in a number of capacities at the former Good Samaritan Hospital, where injured marchers were brought on “Bloody Sunday” in 1965 to be treated. Since 1983 she has worked at the Edmundite Missions office on Broad Street.

She also works part time at Brantley Junior High as a paraprofessional in the classroom with S.T.E.P. children and she rides on the bus with them.

There is hardly a category of people living in the Selma area whose lives have not been touched in some way at some time over the years through Fuller’s personal ministry.

Fuller cares deeply for children and the Selma native has cared for 43 children – black and white – in her own home.

Homeless people are a special concern of hers. She spoke of two families – one African-American, the other white – whom she, with the help of others, assisted in locating food, transportation and shelter.

She has visited an elderly woman in the Lighthouse Convalescent Home, whom she has known for 35 years, every day for the past three years. “She was really good to me and my children,” she said. “I’m so glad I can visit her now.”

“I used to stay with another woman at night for two years,” she said, “and there have been others over the years.”

And she drives seniors. This past week she was driving an elderly woman to Birmingham for an appointment.

She once helped a man, for a time, who carried his mattress around town, until he moved on.

Fuller grew up dirt poor, and so did her children, she said, but they never knew they were poor.

Fuller said, “I am a people person. I talk to a lot of people. When I sense a need I let Father Roger (La charite, director of Edmundite Missions) know, and often the Edmundites are able to help.” But she also seeks out help through her church, Providence Baptist on Kings Bend Road, and others in the community – wherever she can get it.

In addition to helping individuals and families, Fuller has also served on a number of boards and committees whose projects help others, such as the Food Stamp board, the Sickle Cell board and the Salvation Army.

Fuller is realistic about Selma, but also optimistic in terms of the future. “Selma is where I’ve spent my life,” she said. “We’ve (Selma) grown; still we have a long way to go. There are going to be ups and downs wherever you live, things to change, things you would like to change and things that need to change. And when you come from a poor background, like we did, you learn how to make do with what you have. My son Marcus told me that he never realized that his family was dirt poor. He didn’t see it, because we made the best out of life. I used to take my own children and the children I kept – some white – out to the garbage dump. Some were children of doctors and lawyers. They enjoyed going to the dump, just as my own kids did. We would go out to Pea Ridge Road where the dump was located to pick up fabric to make quilts. I still remember the day we were out there and there was this absolutely beautiful watermelon that had grown in the dump. We burst it and all the children made a feast out of it. It was ripe and good, it was in the cool of the morning.”

As her son put it, “We made life fun.”

Ruby Fuller is still making life fun – for herself and many others. And the community is far better because of her efforts.