After nearly fifteen years of service to L’Arche Greater Washington, D.C., Dorothy Copps plans to retire this year.
Dorothy first came to L’Arche as a volunteer. She and her husband, Tom, moved to D.C. from Tucson, Ariz., to live in a discipleship community. In Tucson, Tom had been a preacher, while Dorothy had worked as a teacher and, later, with people with disabilities. After serving as an assistant at L’Arche, she took on the role of home-life leader and then stepped into her current position as community leader for the Ontario and Euclid homes.
Dorothy builds a community of faith and supports and oversees the well-being of assistants. She coordinates the community calendar—tracking anniversaries and birthday parties—and she organizes events such as Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas parties.
But, for the most part, Dorothy doesn’t see herself as a big planner, record keeper, or motherly figure. She considers herself a friend. She wants people to feel that they belong. When others reflect on Dorothy’s place in the community, they point to her attitude more than her actions. She has a peace-giving presence about her.
Fellow community member Dottie Bockstiegel says that Dorothy is faithful, approachable, cares deeply about others, and is adaptable. She takes her work seriously but is spontaneous and has a wonderful sense of humor. (Ask her to show you her “hippo face.”)
While Dorothy has served the L’Arche community, she emphasizes the richness of relationships L’Arche has given back to her. Two other highlights of her time with L’Arche were accompanying Gene Sampson on an Elvis tribute Caribbean cruise and organizing the regional gathering, a get-together of six L’Arche communities in the eastern region.
This summer Dorothy will pass the torch to Bob Jacobs, who currently serves as home-life leader at Euclid house. She’ll remain with L’Arche until December, sharing time with core people and working on special projects. Then she and Tom will relocate to the Southwest to enjoy the climate and be closer to two of their three adult children.
Bob came to L’Arche in 2007, thinking he’d take a yearlong break from his work in the corporate world. That break became a new life, and in accepting the community leader role in L’Arche this spring Bob has committed to the community for four more years.
In addition to his steadfast friendship with the core members of Euclid house, Bob has given many hours to L’Arche’s spiritual-life committee and is one half of the renowned emcee duo for Solidary Night, an annual variety show that raises funds for L’Arche’s sister communities.
Meet Bob Jacobs in L’Arche’s newest video, Called to Love.
Beth Quill is senior editor/science at Smithsonian Magazine and a volunteer writer for L’Arche. Bethany Keener is director of communications and development at L’Arche.