The first L’Arche community was founded in 1964 in France in response to the inhumane conditions of the large institutions where people with intellectual disabilities had been placed. L’Arche came to the USA in 1972 and to DC in 1983!
A group of people passionate about building community with DC residents with intellectual disabilities met at Georgetown University and began discussing founding a L’Arche community in DC.
Adams Morgan, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in DC, was chosen as the site of our first home. Eighth Day Church, a community of Church of the Savior, offered a row house they owned and renovation work began.
We invited two men from Forest Haven (an institution where countless people with disabilities were abused) to be founding members of L’Arche GWDC. They said yes! A third core member also joined and together with other community members they were the first L’Arche GWDC home called Ontario House.
L’Arche USA was founded to help support existing communities in the United States and to help guide groups that are interested in founding new L’Arche communities.
L’Arche expanded to another house a few blocks from the original, a house that became known as Euclid House or “The Red Door” for the brightly painted door. New core members moved in!
The Washington Post published a series of articles by Katherine Boo about DC’s care for people with intellectual disabilities. L’Arche GWDC was recognized as being one of the District’s best service providers.
L’Arche GWDC purchased the row house next door to our first DC home and combined the houses to have more space.
The GWDC community celebrated its 20th anniversary and former assistants were invited to talk about their roots and experiences in L’Arche.
Noticing the need for housing in Virginia, GWDC laid the plans to expand our community!
Our first home, known as Highland House, opened its doors in Arlington, Virginia with great excitement and welcomed four core members as well as assistants!
The new home, 6 Street House, was built with L’Arche needs in mind and welcome four new core members with much celebration!
With the theme of “35 Years of Belonging,” L’Arche GWDC looked back on over three decades of community, joy, challenges, and growth.
At L’Arche GWDC part of our mission is to “respond to the changing needs of our members, while being faithful to the core values of our founding story.” While L’Arche communities may change, we always return to our core values of mutual relationships, trust in God, and inclusion.