The L’Arche Spokane community centers around life-giving and life-changing relationships, led by the adults with intellectual disabilities (called core members). Many of our community members, including core members and assistants, live together in L’Arche homes – we have two homes in the Logan neighborhood. While providing needed housing and support services, L’Arche also offers much more. We are a community that supports each other, whether we live with the experiences of intellectual disabilities or not, through daily joys and challenges.
L’Arche focuses on holistic, person-centered care within relationships, offering a model of inclusive living. We are a community that advocates with each other, and especially with core members, for our personal preferences and goals.
For core members, L’Arche offers long term homes which provide for social and medical needs that are met by a team of assistants and volunteers. Relationships between core members and assistants are at the heart of L’Arche’s mission and one of the reasons our impact is recognized globally. The unique perspective of each L’Arche core member makes a L’Arche home a loving and exciting place to grow, learn, and live.
L’Arche Spokane is an intentional faith community, where faith is lived out in daily activities. We are an interdenominational Christian community, welcoming people of all faiths and none, and everyone is respected in their beliefs.
Many community members came to L’Arche seeking spiritual depth and one way they have found it is in the wisdom of the core members (people with intellectual disabilities) and in everyday moments of connection. As former assistant Bethany (Loumena) Swanson said, “The core members are better teachers than any of the ones I had in my classrooms. They teach me daily what it means to live authentically.”
One way the daily spiritual focus of L’Arche can be witnessed is through the experiences of sharing meals and the prayer times that follow them. Dinners are a special time at L’Arche, where the members of the home, friends, and guests come together to reflect on the day and rest in each other’s presence. After each dinner, the community members pass around a candle and take turns praying, or engage in another form of prayer. L’Arche Spokane also hosts two prayer nights a month, as well as Advent and Lent retreats.
Each year, L’Arche Spokane utilizes the talents of numerous assistants, interns, and volunteers to support core members (adults with intellectual disabilities). In L’Arche, mutual transformation and growth is a way of life, one which we enact by helping each other develop to our full potential.
Sometimes these individuals join L’Arche during college or before entering a graduate program. They seek an opportunity to give back to their community and develop transferable skills for careers. These individuals come from our local community and all over the country. We regularly draw students from Gonzaga University, Whitworth University, Great Northern University, and Notre Dame University.
Others come to L’Arche with more life experience, sometimes prompted by a career change, or change in life circumstance. In L’Arche, they find a new opportunity for meaning and purpose.
Whatever their motivation for coming to L’Arche, all grow as they share life with and are taught by people who live with intellectual disabilities. Growth and development not only support our daily functioning, but is a key part of our mission to build a more human society. Our community members develop new paradigms for inclusion, the value of a human life, and an appreciation for the gifts of every person, including their own.
“As this experience teaches me more about love, compassion, and service, I am motivated to take the beauty of the L’Arche community beyond the walls of the Harvest and Trinity house. This community gives me an example to point to, a home to come back to, and hope for a more peaceful and just society.” Charlie Marks, former assistant