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#LarcheImpact – Dorothy Copps

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 sixth 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 started out as a volunteer assistant when I was at the Church of the Savior’s Discipleship Home. I was the Home Life Coordinator at Ontario Rd. Home for 4 years. I was the Home Life Coordinator at Euclid Home for 2 years. I was the Community  Leader for D.C. for 8 years.

What brought you to L’Arche?

My husband Tom and I were accepted in the Discipleship Year Program after a difficult exit from Tom’s pastorate (of 14 yr) in Tucson. I had been training intellectually challenged people in Tucson.  My work site was supposed to be with Academy of Hope, but the opportunity passed because Tom was taking so long to decide whether he wanted to pastor a church in Alaska.  After we accepted the DY position, Tom had a work site with Samaritan Inns, and I had to search out my own.  Tom’s supervisor knew John Cook’s  mother Mary Jo, so I called her about a position with L’Arche and she connected me with John Cook…so my mission with L’Arche started at the Ontario Road Home.  I accompanied Elizabeth Styles who died in 1999. (my first experience with death of a person with challenges)… soooo sad for the whole community.

What’s one of your favorite memories at L’Arche?

My favorite memory (hard to choose) is my memory of accompanying Eugene Sampson on a Caribbean cruise and being part of the Elvis Presley contingent of people on the cruise.  We were privileged to hear Elvis Tribute Artists (they were so good) and do special activities. My favorite memory on the trip was of Eugene tapping his cane loudly to Jailhouse rock, and then he asked me to dance.  YAY! We also brought back Ginger wine from Jamaica.  Another experience was that a  Jamaican woman braided a strip of my hair with red, yellow, and green yarns…the colors of the Jamaican flag.  So fun!!!

What encouragement/advice do you have for people who are considering L’Arche? 

My advice for potential L’Arche assistants is prepare to be transformed in unexpected ways. I learned so much about equality, mutuality, and living from the heart..  It is also hard work.  Don’t expect to spend all the time in prayer and meditation…which is hard work too. I also learned a lot about the balance of being and doing.

How did you grow in your time at L’Arche?

I grew in my leadership abilities. I also grew in acceptance of myself, my own gifts, and learning the value of how God made me.

How does your time at L’Arche impact you today?

I am continually impacted by my L’Arche experience, especially in these days of our “new” government administration.   Since we now live about an hour away from the Mexican border, I am especially confronted with issues of inclusion and discrimination.  L’Arche (especially John Cook) taught a lot about welcoming of and hospitality to “all”.

Do you have a favorite picture of your time at L’Arche you could share with us?

Dorothy Copps and Andrew Commisso at a group picnic. Photo taken by John Cook.


We invite you to share your own responses to the “#LarcheImpact” questions. Your responses can be emailed to

We are actively seeking new live-in and live-out assistants. Apply today! 

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