L'Arche Clinton, "The Arch"
At L'Arche Clinton, also known locally as The Arch, we imagine community differently. Instead of viewing the question of disability as a healthcare issue, we see persons. The Arch builds community with people of all abilities through living together in residential homes, where adults with intellectual disabilities share life with “assistants”, and through supporting some adults to live independently in the community. Our homes are a place of welcome, where we learn to appreciate the unique gifts of each person and to respond to each one's needs. At the same time, we live engaged lives in the larger community, and friends of the community extend the network of support – and are themselves impacted by this broader experience of human family.
"Can we reasonably have a dream of a world where people, whatever their race, religion, culture, abilities, or disabilities, whatever their education or economic situation, whatever their age or gender, can find a place and reveal their gifts?" (Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche)
The Arch was founded in 1974, and is one of over 140 L'Arche communities in nearly 40 countries, a global movement that began in 1964when Jean Vanier invited three men with intellectual disabilities to leave their state institution and live with him in the French village of Trosly-Breuil. He called the home “L’Arche”, which is the French word for “The Ark,” symbolizing a place of diversity, refuge and hope. This simple act of hospitality transformed Vanier. His gesture of “service” led to a profound friendship and sense of community. The Arch draws its inspiration from the beauty of this simple life together.
Our mission is to build community with people of all abilities, announce the gifts of adults with intellectual disabilities, and transform society by moving toward a more human community.
A L'Arche community consists of… mutual relationships: At the heart of L’Arche communities are relationships between people with and without intellectual disabilities. A respectful relationship between people who treat each other as of equal value provides security, allowing for growth, personal development and freedom to become more fully the people we want to be. Most importantly, mutual relationships foster the acceptance of each person as a unique and valuable individual, whatever his or her abilities or disabilities.
… spirituality: From its first community, founded in France in the Roman Catholic tradition, many other communities have been established in various cultural and religious traditions. Today, faith life continues to be an essential element of all L’Arche communities, which may be rooted in a particular faith tradition or have an ecumenical or an inter-faith character. Communities are respectful of the particular faith traditions of people who come to the community and seek to support members to deepen in their own faith experience and values, whether they situate themselves within or outside a religious affiliation.
… know-how: Nearly 50 years of experience and cooperative work with doctors, psychologists, social workers and other professionals have enabled L’Arche communities to develop strong competencies and a high standard of quality in the field of care-giving. In several countries, L’Arche is called upon by governments for advice on policy formation.
… community life: Living with others emphasizes what a person can accomplish, give and learn. Just as in a family, all members of the community are responsible for the group’s well-being, be it at home, in a workshop or a day program, through cooking or washing up, through a helping hand, a smile or a joke.