Local Talent Raises Global Awareness, Funds

by Beth Quill

Pink flames and red sequins bedazzled this 2011’s L’Arche Solidarity Night at The Falls Church in Virginia. More than 150 people showed up to celebrate the talent in the L’Arche community while raising money for L’Arche’s sister communities around the globe.

Emcees Bob Jacobs and Eileen Schofield donned their best disco duds to show their moves and introduce the evening’s acts. Jacobs borrowed a tan suit with pink flames sewn onto it especially for the event, but, about her red sequin flapper dress with black fringes, Schofield shrugged: “I just had it.”

Megan Herron and Deb Green got things going with a rendition of The Beatles’ “There are Places I Remember,” and a choreographed photo-finish horse race led by Brian Healy, Bruce Weaver, and Luke Smith kept audience members on the edges of their seats. Other highlights included a song by “Sonny” James Brown, Presidential trivia with Michael Schaff, a piano and Hula-Hoop extravaganza, and other harmonizing and harmonica-izing.

By the end of the night, $1,528 had been collected. A raffle of gift certificates and handcrafted jewelry brought in $426 for the L’Arche Haiti Fund and general donations to the Solidarity Fund totaled $1,102.

Herron, who chairs the Solidarity Committee and helped organize and prepare for the event, says the Solidarity Fund supports L’Arche communities around the world and funds are distributed based on the greatest need. Many of the communities receive no government funding and rely on the Solidarity Fund to function on a daily basis.

“The needs in many of these communities are great-dire, even, at times-and their resources for both operations and fundraising are minimal,” she says.

The community in Mexico City has only one open home and one live-in assistant, for instance.

Enrique Guzman, who had just returned from visiting that community, said the experience was life giving for him. Though much different, the community there is like family-they eat and pray together.

“It is so beautiful to see those one or two things that make us a community worldwide,” he says. Whatever the greater Washington community can offer, in donations, assistants, prayers and love, is greatly appreciated.

Solidarity Night helps remind folks living in the greater Washington community that they are blessed with an international family, Herron says. The event is a fundraiser, yes, but solidarity means cultivating friendships and understanding. “We try to keep this at heart in our planning,” she says.

The heart of the L’Arche community shone in the event’s big, free-flowing, spirited finale: A party on stage with tiaras, Mardi Gras beads, clapping and a whole lot of hip shaking.

There was no mistaking Schofield’s favorite part of the night: “The dancing.”