July 26, 2012
I was introduced to the L'Arche community as a spring break student at Loyola College in 2005. As an alternative break volunteer, my placement was the most alternative of the group. We were asked to get to know the community and why it was needed in the DC area. We were introduced to the world of disability rights in DC. The first home I walked into was a humbling experience of instant welcome. I did not feel like I had to be anything "important" or even have anything interesting to say. The fact that I was a guest in the home was excitement enough for the people hosting my group. After my first experience, I knew I wanted to come back, to feel that welcome. I became an assistant in 2008 after graduating college and became a house leader in 2010. I was consistently challenged in my role by the dailiness of community life and the intimacy of knowing my housemates in some of their darkest times. Sometimes, I was overwhelmed by the community expectations and the role of leader/caregiver to my housemates. Being in L'Arche though, has taught me about consistency in friendship, gentle direct communication, and my time there has given me a more open heart to welcome an outsider. The work that L'Arche does in advocacy and friendship with people with disabilities world wide is inspiring and needed. I would often love to listen to other assistants talk about the mission of L'Arche, just to hear how wonderful it is that I was a part of it. I left the L'Arche community in 2011, but still live in the neighborhood of the Arlington homes and am reminded how it is still my responsibility as a friend to continue the work of L'Arche through developing the relationships I have built there, and communicating the needs of people with disabilities, (most importantly , the need to be respected and celebrated) with all of my current communities. The work of L'Arche is never done, and leaving L'Arche has only made me see how my time there will direct the rest of my life.
Would you volunteer for this group again?
For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?
Did the organization use your time wisely?
Would you recommend this group to a friend?
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?