Do you remember what you were doing a year ago?  Last May I was in my first days as End of Life Washington’s Executive Director.

 I had just moved back to Seattle after three years away. The COVID-19 pandemic was new and many of us, including me,  were quarantining at home. George Floyd’s murder was igniting a long-overdue national racial reckoning. So much was happening all at once! 

Even with so much change swirling around us,  the End of Life Washington (EOLWA) Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, and I were clear about our priorities for the next twelve months.  

Client Support: Help me applaud the 70+ Volunteer Client Advisors who supported  550 clients remotely and safely in person to ensure that even amid a pandemic they had the support they needed to access the peace of mind that can accompany Death with Dignity and Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking. 

Our core group of 10 physicians adapted to telemed services to ensure that the close to 200 clients who needed help identifying two supportive physicians could do so with greater ease. 

Sally Thomae, MSW, helped us launch the first-in-the-nation Aftercare Support Group to ensure that our clients’ loved ones had grief support in a welcoming and supportive environment. 

You can get a glimpse of the impact of our work, all of which is always free of charge, through Ms. Metheny’s story seen here.

Increased Awareness. Twelve years after the passage of the Death with Dignity Act, we want more people to know about and understand this choice, as well as other options, such as Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking,  for those who experience suffering, but do not qualify for Medical Aid in Dying.  

We are in the early months of a major awareness campaign, End of Life Ready, which builds upon our previous work, and will reach thousands of Washingtonians over the next few years. 

You can read about our efforts to increase awareness and support by clicking here.

That over 90 percent of our clients are white and live west of the mountains points to the need to increase our reach and relevance to more Washingtonians. 

Thanks to two internal working groups, the Eastern WA Working Group, and the Equity and Inclusion Working Group, we are better able to reach and support a wider spectrum of people in the state.  

Increased Access: We were disappointed that the Washington Senate failed to advance ESHB1141, the Improving Access to Death with Dignity Act, sponsored by Reps. Skyler Rude (R) and Nicole Macri (D). 

You can read more about this bill and our experience this legislative session by clicking here.

YOU and the entire EOLWA community, are a formidable force, sending over 3,000 emails to legislators across the state in support of this bill.  We will not be deterred and will continue the work to increase Washingtonians’ access to a full range of end of life choices.  

The pandemic altered our sense of place, relations, and time for years to come. 

This past year has demonstrated, again, the power of our collective commitment to reducing Washingtonians’ suffering in their final days.  Thank you! Please consider supporting EOLWA with a financial gift. Individuals like you provide 90% of our annual funding.  

In the spirit of community,

Judy Kinney, MSW

Executive Director

To read the previous article,” New Faces on EOLWA Staff and Board of Directors,” click here.

To read the next article, “The Vaccines Are HereThe Numbers Are Dropping: Now What?” click here.

To make a financial gift to End of Life Washington, click here.