Carefully crafted circles of support create relationships that grow in faith and friendship, leading to a sense of authentic belonging. There are currently over 154 L’Arche communities throughout the world. Some create networks of families, some concentrate on housing, some on social and creative initiatives. All share a fundamental dedication to service, community, spirituality, and outreach.
Each L’Arche community in the United States is organized as a 501 (c) (3) organization that reflects the values of L’Arche while expressing the unique ethnic, cultural, and religious makeup of their own area. L’Arche communities, nevertheless, believe that people with and without disabilities are equal, that diversity enriches all of our lives, that people with disabilities can offer a great deal to society, and the relationships between people in community are transformative for both people with and without disabilities.
L’Arche recognizes the importance of spirituality and the search for meaning in life. It is rooted in the Christian gospel but open to people of different beliefs, practices and religions. L’Arche is committed to adapting to a changing world while maintaining connections among all L’Arche communities through sharing values and common practices.
“As long as someone loves him everyday." -- Ian Brown: from his book: The Boy in the Moon, 2009
L’Arche most closely approximates Ian Brown’s hoped-for way of life for his son. L’Arche is inclusive at its core. In fact, persons with disabilities who are part of L’Arche communities are referred to as core members because they are at the heart or center of the community.
One of the most compelling attributes of L’Arche is that it provides the necessary supports for people who need care without suppressing their individuality and self expression. It exemplifies person centeredness.
The L’Arche model stresses “sharing with”, not “working with” or “doing for”. In our conversations with parents and people interested in L’Arche, the question is often raised, “what draws assistants to become part of a L’Arche community?”
This is best answered by watching the video on the right.
L’Arche provides significant individual and group support to the many emerging communities throughout the country as they develop their identity and resources. Community of Practice meetings occur monthly where people representing communities share their progress, ideas and concerns.
It is a space to learn, share and consider innovative ideas for conceiving a way to serve the people who join L’Arche. Existing L’Arche communities also play a very important role in staff support and development, an area that we see as vital in addressing the fragility in our current caregiving system.
L’Arche places emphasis on supporting caregivers through formation, regular meetings where staff process their roles, discuss their interactions and support one another. This acknowledges the importance of their roles and relieves the isolation that often accompanies care and support.