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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

L'Arche, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Christianity, Civil Rights, Disabilities, Disabled Persons Rights, Group Homes, Human Services, Religion

Mission: Our mission is to make known the gifts of people who have intellectual disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships. L’Arche Greater Washington, D.C., is an interdenominational Christian community of people with and without intellectual disabilities who share their lives together. Life in L’Arche centers on four communal homes and sixteen members who have intellectual disabilities.

Results: L'Arche Greater Washington, D.C. has been operating in Adams Morgan for 31 years and 9 years in Arlington. We host nearly 200 people for dinner every year at our homes, as a main piece of our mission is hospitality. We hosted 24 presentations of L'Arche over the past year. We are continuing to build our capacity to grow and have plans to add more homes in Washington, D.C.

Target demographics: Adults who have intellectual disabilities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 16 adults who have intellectual disabilities

Geographic areas served: Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia

Programs: L'Arche has three program areas: 1.Building community within our homes and within the broader community, 2. Providing professional support services to adults who have intellectual disabilities, and 3. Advocating for and with those who have disabilities for the dignity and rights they deserve.

Community Stories

39 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

There is no organization that I know of like 'L'Arche Greater Washington DC".. Their witness daily is a testament to the passion of the commitment of the organization...It is not just the volunteers or the staff bit the entire community including the core residents that make L'Arche uniquely different than so many other wonderful organizations. I am all in with them and I believe that anyone who encounters this organization will be all in and never be the same..With gratitude, Jack McHale

Lindsay22

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first experienced L'Arche 20 years ago as a reading tutor for one of the core members. It wasn't long before they began inviting me to stay for dinner and eventually I became an assistant. The two years I spent with the community inspired me to become a licensed creative arts therapist and to this day my work is strongly informed by my time with this remarkable group of people. In all of my years working in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, L'Arche continues to stand above the rest. I have never experienced an organization that tends to the well being of its clients and staff with as much integrity and compassion as I found at L'Arche.

Mary Lizette H.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I love L'Arche and L'Arche D.C. I am from L'Arche Cleveland and when we get together with other L'Arche communities in the Eastern Region of the USA we always have such a wonderful time as we celebrate each other and the gifts that each person brings. It is so wonderful to see the coremembers interacting with each other. They know one another well. I am grateful to be part of L'Arche.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I visited L'Arche D.C. after my son, who goes to college at CUA, became friends with of the assistants. As a result I visited the L'Arches home on 3 different occasions while visiting D.C. The home, its residents and assistants are made from love. They truly live as a family. It takes a special calling for those who volunteer. They are selfless individuals who truly live to serve others. God bless L'Arche for the opportunity if gives its residents.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I was invited to a L'Arche event by a colleague working with people with disabilities. What first got my attention was that the members of l'Arche workforce and core members operated the event together. The mutual respect among all L'Arche members demonstrated the core value of mutual relationship.

The welcoming to L'Arche was and is authentic, warm and open. Invitations to dinner at the house and community gatherings further grew my relationships with L'Arche. Never have I experienced such truth in an organization living out its mission in the world. I donate to L'Arche because my values of respect and dignity of people living in relationship with each other are active, growing and constantly nurtured there.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I don't know how to aptly describe the wonder and beauty of L'Arche. It truly changed my life and I watched it transform individuals, neighborhoods, programs and other volunteers for the 2 and a half years I lived in one of the homes as a volunteer. As a social worker in the field of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, I can firmly state that there is nothing like it for people with disabilities. It is a place of love, dedication, selflessness, and commitment.

Donor

Rating: 5

L'Arche is an outstanding & inspiring nonprofit agency. I know members of the community (key word!) through meeting them at church. All, staff & clients, are open, friendly & welcoming. They've hosted our family for dinner more than once (including our grandchildren). That was a great experience of their community. I can't think of a nonprofit I've ever encountered that has been so inspiring.
Donna Davis

Donor

Rating: 5

I was amazed by the dedication of L'Arche volunteers when I first met them and have grown to appreciate the whole organization the more I learn about them. The dedication to the well-being of the Corp Members and their inclusion as equal members of the community is a beautiful model. My wife and I have slowly increased our donations to L'Arche and focused our money on L'Arche because we can see a direct impact.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have invited L'Arche to visit my students at The Catholic University for over four years because the story of how this community was founded and how they continue to positively impact persons with and without intellectual disability represents to me the perfect example of excellent social service.

- Matt Tapie, The Catholic University of America

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

L'Arche GWDC excels in providing a community of friendship for persons with intellectual disabilities. Serving the entire Greater Washington, DC and Arlington, VA region, the community demonstrates a profound gift of understanding how to care for the poor. The nonprofit is run with precision and intelligence, holding to the very best practices in every area. Supporting L'Arche GWDC financially is not only a good idea, but one where you can know that everything you give is received and utilized in the best way possible.

Donor

Rating: 5

I've been involved with the Washington DC and Virginia L'Arche communities for 5 years as a volunteer, donor and friend of the community.

One area that stands out for me is the L'Arche assistants, staff, and core member's genuine commitment to each other through both the good and challenging times. They...we live authentically as a community. L'Arche has been and is an inspiration to me to live my life with authenticity.

Review from Guidestar

Vasu108

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I learned about L'Arche and its founder Jean Vanier from an episode of Speaking of Faith, and started volunteering in the DC community soon thereafter. The peace and love I found at L'Arche was healing and soul-stirring; those in the community welcomed me like I had been there for years. The mission of L'Arche to provide unconditional support for all is a model for society, and its wonderful core members, assistants, and volunteers live and breathe that mission every day.

Fred Kaffenberger

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with l'Arche DC in the late 1980s as a live-in assistant. I found it to be a helpful experience in my life, with a good life/work balance, strong community support, and lively metropolitan culture. The organization is well run and stable, and provides a great sign of the value of the person, no matter their intellectual capacity.

Erin42

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I spent 8 months at L'Arche in one of the DC homes. It was truly a life changing experience to live and work in the home. There were - undoubtedly - really hard times in the home, but the good far outweighed the bad. L'Arche is what it aims to be - a community.

Patricia68

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter and future son-in-law are assistants in L'Arche communities in DC and Arlington, and I couldn't be more proud (and impressed)! I have visited their communities many times, and have observed the beauty of community life. The assistants are gifted, compassionate people who impart their talents daily while receiving gifts from the community core members. I have joined in several dinners and prayer nights, and come away feeling better about the world!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was given the privilege to spend 8 weeks with L'Arche GWDC last summer and was struck instantly by how genuine the community is. The interactions between core members and assistants, between the houses and their neighbors, between volunteers and board members, and any combinations of those people are kind, gentle, and incredibly life-giving. Life at L'Arche is real -- there are hang-ups and disagreements and mistakes -- but there is so much support within the community that I felt at home right away. I think the world has a lot to learn from L'Arche about how to love and live in relationship with ALL people.

Laura129

Donor

Rating: 5

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with L'Arche towards their goals. It is a wonderful place!

Laura128

Volunteer

Rating: 5

L'Arche is a truly amazing place, transforming the lives of both Care Members and Assistants. This place is the home I never know I was looking for.

Emily34

Volunteer

Rating: 5

L'Arche changed my life, but beyond that L'Arche changes the world one person at a time.

I had always felt uncomfortable around people with disabilities. I didn't know how to interact with them. Being involved with L'Arche made me realize there is no "them", there are just people - all of whom have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. I know that when I describe L'Arche to those who haven't experienced it - and it is an experience, not just an organization - many people cannot understand what it is beyond a "group home." Since I first interacted with L'Arche and the Core Members, I have known that the term "group home" was far too cheap a descriptor. L'Arche is a home, a community, a family, and a lifestyle. It is the best of what our world can offer for both persons with disabilities and people as a whole.

Respect, dignity, and love are the core tenets of life at L'Arche and every person - Core Member, Assistant, Volunteer, etc - who enters a L'Arche home can immediately feel the TLC for the soul provided within. L'Arche provides a home for life for its Core Members, a community forever for its Assistants and Volunteers, and a true and remarkable worldview for everyone.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

L'Arche is a place where people are respectfully allowed to be themselves. People are loved for who they are and L'Arche stands as a beacon of what can be done when people consciously decide to treat each other with mutual respect and care. So many other organizations that care for disabled adults do it in the capacity of "staff" and "residents." L'Arche is a family and you can see that from a distance. L'Arche takes a lot of emotional presence to be an effective member of the family, but the imprint it leaves on your life, on your soul, will last forever and open your eyes to see the world in a new and beautiful way.

Melissa133

Volunteer

Rating: 5

L'Arche has contributed greatly to my understand of family, friendship, vulnerability, and love. There is no place like L'Arche. L'Arche is a home. It is a family. It is a place where gifts are shared and exchanged. It is a place where people grow, change, and are healed. L'Arche is also a sign that people with disabilities can be loved, valued, and cherished if only we are willing to take the time to be with them, and to let them be with us. My life in L'Arche began with the Greater Washington DC Community. I hope that others will also have the chance to interact with this energetic and kind group of friends.

Penny9

Donor

Rating: 5

Respect and Dignity are two words that first come to mind when thinking of the L'Arche community. For core members of L'Arche there are no disabilities, only different abilities. Thanks to L'Arche every person has the opportunity to shine. -Kim Pintabona

Board Member

Rating: 5

There are so many examples i could give to show how extraordinary L'Arche is ( if the world lived by their example it would be a far better world!) Something wonderful that happened recently was when a core member of L'Arche was hospitalized and had round the clock support by a L'Arche assistant or friend of L'Arche a doctor said he had never witnesed that kind of care and unconditional love..He was also very surprised and impressed when the patient was excited about returning "home" Rarely does that happen...often times that patient does not want to go back to their living situation because they feel better taken care of in the hospital. I think we would all want that for ourselves and for all mankind.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I think it is so very important for individuals with developmental disabilities to be in a community where they are part of mutually trans formative relationships and this is what L'Arche's foundation is.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Long before I first stepped foot in any of the four warm and welcoming homes of L'Arche, Inc., I was compelled to read about it, watch videos, and hear the stories of its members. I was preparing to lead a group of spring break students for a week of service in the Arlington homes. One week for me turned into a commitment to return for a year as a live-in assistant. I was at the brand new Sixth Street Home, being welcomed by long standing community members, and then welcoming four new core members to their home for life. L'Arche stands apart because it meets its guests, volunteers, and members where they are, and celebrates their gifts and values. Each home has its own branch of the family tree, and because of the emphasis on community, that extends far in the greater D.C. area. The community supports each other in times of joy and sadness. The core members see many individuals pass through the doors of their homes for dinner, to live with them, and for many other endeavors, but they are always ready to embrace a new person. They are the true treasures of Arlington Heights and Adams Morgan, the neighborhoods that L'Arche resides in.

Caroline14

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It's hard to say just how much being a part of the L'Arche Greater Washington DC community has meant to me. My time there has informed not only my current work (as a writer with a focus on sharing the stories of people with special needs), but the way I experience the world. When I arrived at L'Arche to be a direct-care assistant in 2007, I thought I'd stay for just one year. One year turned into five years, however, as I served in roles from assistant to home life coordinator to program director to consultant to volunteer and friend. Though it was a challenging journey at times, it was also full of joy. L'Arche DC, like any organization comprised of human beings, isn't perfect -- but its members are very good at giving one another second (and third, and fourth, and five-hundreth) chances. (Not to mention the fact that they know how to laugh, dance, and throw a good party.) They know how to ask good questions, how to grieve, and how to celebrate, and I am proud to have been a part of their life. And their practice of community-based caregiving is transformative. Supporting another person helps you to know your own vulnerability. When the core members at L'Arche welcomed me into their family, they changed my heart, and for that, I will always give thanks.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a part of the L'Arche DC family for almost 30 years. If ever there was an island of love in the world, L'Arche is it. The gentleness and compassion shared between the core members and staff is inspiring. People are loved for the gifts each one brings to the community. I was fortunate to raise my children within the L'Arche community. When others remark on how caring they are, I give credit to their L'Arche family. To Gene and Mo who held them as babies and celebrated many milestones with them, to Michael, who knows their every life detail, and for all of the many others who loved them as they were growing up. I cannot think of a better way to promote good in the world than by contributing to L'Arche. The ripple (or wave) effect is enormous.

Garrick J.

Donor

Rating: 5

L'arche holds a special place for me within the confines of my ministry. When I was in seminary working toward my Masters of Divinity, I happened to be assigned the book, Adam, written by Henri Nowen. It had a truly profound effect on my experience with people with intellectually disabled individuals. The book was written with such passion and compassion. What Nowen discovered and has helped me to realize and believe is that we are all called to community. It was Jean Vanier who discovered L'arche; however, it is the individuals within its doors who make the impact on human existence and experience for those who dare to take a chance to explore it. L'arche has opened my mind to what a community founded in Christ can mean and how we live, eat, breathe and learn to be together as one. It is a venue of love, compassion, honor, and forgiveness; a place of welcome, warmth, humanness, and growth. L'arche has helped me to learn more about myself from those who are served much more than belonging to one faith community or church. It has taught me ministry in the greatest way, through faith and hope!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Greater DC L'Arche is an unusual organization. At its heart are humanity and compassion; L'Arche is also a well-run organization with a dedicated, organized, conscientious and skilled staff and volunteers, who show what human dignity is all about.

Elizabeth55

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

This is an incredible organization and group of people.

Board Member

Rating: 5

L'Arche is most effective in assisting adults with developmental disabilities to have "a voice" in civil and community affairs. L'Arche members have testified at State & County hearing in Virginia, and public meetings in DC. L'Arche highlights the citizenship that everyone enjoys.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent a week at L'Arche and it was a phenomenal experience. I had no idea what to expect and the week was just wonderful. The core members had such an impact on me and the community was so strong it was so inspirational!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

L'Arche in Greater Washington D.C. serves people with intellectual disabilites with great finesse wrapped in love. This intentional community welcomes people without disablilities to live in and enter into mutual relationships with the people who have challenges. The community is continually on a creative path of building a strong home life and pursues stimulating activities both intellectual and recreational to enhance the lives of everyone involved. It has been a joy to be involved for 13 years. Dorothy Copps Community Leader in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a sibling of a person with a developmental disability, one of my greatest concerns is the lack of independent living opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Spending an evening with a L'Arche community showed me that these opportunities not only exist but are attended caring communities of equality, dignity, and faith. My time with L'Arche, brief as it was, has redefined my hopes of independent living for my friends -- and sister -- with intellectual disabilities. Thank you L'Arche.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

L'Arche is nothing short of amazing. As a visitor, you are sucked into the energetic and passionate environment, making it no surprise that most visitors go on to volunteer in some capacity or another. As a volunteer, I found myself spending most hours of the day at L'Arche, because there was truly no where else I wanted to be. And as a supporter of numerous organizations of people with disabilities and after having experiences with other organizations that provide homes for people with all types of abilities, I can honestly say that L'Arche is top-tier and that any person who experiences L'Arche in any capacity will grow in an emotional, spiritual, and compassionate way.