Impact is a theme in our community this year and who knows about the impact of L’Arche better than people who have been part of our community? So we reached out to current and former community members to hear about their stories and relationships, and how L’Arche GWDC has impacted them. This is the third in a series of interviews with current and former community members of L’Arche GWDC titled: #LarcheImpact. You can find the first interview here.
When were you at L’Arche GWDC and what were your role(s)?
I served as part-time administrative assistant in the late 80s; dates are fuzzy, but I put in close to two years 1988-89, left for a stint in Nicaragua (my second) on the Witness for Peace long-term team, then was rehired by Community of the Ark [COTA- former name of our L’Arche GWDC community] for about two more years, 1990-92. I left to take yet another WFP job and moved to Chicago.
What brought you to L’Arche?
I’m not sure, but it seems like my friend and housemate Mary Chatlos, who worked at The Potter’s House, hooked me up. I remember saying to friends at the time that some of us in the Central America movement needed to learn how to manage an organization. COTA was great training for that.
What’s one of your favorite memories at L’Arche?
Like many young residents of DC, I had to keep moving from home to home. And at one point I was in a little trouble with the law, having gone AWOL from grand jury when it looked to me like its main purpose was to lock up black men. Every time I got into some kind of needy situation, L’Arche friends were there for me. Glen, Mo, and Eugene moved my furniture a couple of times. Johnny and Eileen went to church with me. I spent a few nights on the COTA couch, and I always felt safe and welcome in the L’Arche homes. Oh, and I went on a couple of road trips and retreats. Too many memories to count!
What encouragement/advice do you have for people who are considering L’Arche?
Dive in. Be ready to be changed and directed.
How did you grow in your time at L’Arche?
I learned a lot of office skills. I learned a little of what it’s like for people with differing abilities to walk on a street or sit in a shop and be stared at. I learned to see past disability.
How does your time at L’Arche impact you today?
I have continued to develop bookkeeping and other office skills. I seek out opportunities to advocate for people with disabilities.
Do you have a favorite picture of your time at L’Arche you could share with us?
See above photo of L’Arche Greater Washington, D.C., founding members (L-R, from top) Mo Higgs, Glenn Houser, Gene Sampson, and Michael Schaff. Anne Holzman took this photo during her time at L’Arche. Mo and Michael continue to live in our community today.
We invite you to share your own responses to the “#LarcheImpact” questions. Your responses can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are actively seeking new live-in and live-out assistants. Apply today!