Let Our Voices Be Heard

L'Arche USA board president John Hildreth encourages communities to speak up.

A particular highlight of the June L’Arche International General Assembly in Atlanta was Tim Shriver’s opening address. The chairman and CEO of the Special Olympics underscored the importance, even urgency, of L’Arche evolving as a forceful advocate for the equality of persons with disabilities. He called for a “dignity revolution,” transforming the status and understanding of persons with disabilities in our society. His words were an important reminder of our charge to utilize the unique gifts of L’Arche to announce the possibility of a world where everyone enjoys respect, care, and responsibility.

June also brought the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). While it is challenging to comprehend the law’s many components, there is no question that its consequences for the communities of L’Arche USA are enormous. With the growing burden on our communities to fundraise to remain financially sustainable compared to our friends in other countries, access to affordable health care is essential.

A major ACA provision is the expansion of Medicaid coverage for the uninsured and underinsured. Medicaid is the primary source of financial support for core members in L’Arche USA communities, and its provision and funding vary widely state to state. It is crucial that each L’Arche USA community become acquainted with Medicaid proposals in their state, and communicate with their governor and legislators to ask them to exercise due diligence in understanding the needs of your underserved populations and in ensuring health care access for persons with disabilities.

Take ownership of your rights as citizens and exercise your power to affirm our values of equality and dignity for all.

Both of these June events, while quite different, reinforce the reality and potential of living in communities connected across the country and world through a shared identity and mission. You have a voice. Let it be heard!

-John Hildreth is the president of the L’Arche USA board.