Impact Stories

Read inspiring stories about our community and the impact that L’Arche Greater Vancouver and its supporters make in people’s lives.

Christina’s Story – A Parent’s Perspective

A day in the life of two young adults.

A typical day in the life of my daughter, Christina, begins when she awakens to an alarm, gets ready for work, grabs her cell phone and backpack, and hurries off to catch the bus to her part time job. After work, she heads home, mindful of her commitment to go to exercise class or to have coffee with a friend. When she gets home she tumbles into the hubbub of the household’s day to day life, secure in the knowledge that she’s where she belongs. She’s also looking forward to a vacation she’s going on with her housemates.

Contrasts this to a typical day in the life of several other young adults I know still living at home – which I describe here in the context of a single person. Her day starts when her mom wakes her up, although she’d rather stay in bed, so she turns on the TV and plunks down in front of it. Mom pesters her to have breakfast and hovers around, asking what the plan is for that day. She says she just wants to stay home by herself. She might walk over to the mall or she could take a bus somewhere, but really, there’s no place to go. 

These young people – Christina and the others I have described – all have Down SyndromeThey grew up in loving families that advocated for inclusion in school and in the community, they attended special education college programs, and they learned to travel independently on the bus and can read. They have many gifts, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. 

What makes these two “typical days” so very different is that Christina lives at L’Arche. 

Christina has been a member of L’Arche Greater Vancouver community for the last fifteen years. She lives a very full life where her gifts are valued, her talents are nurtured and her shortcomings are accepted. She is challenged to accept responsibility and to take risks and her opinions and ideas are important. She has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances and a social life that is independent of her family. 

Without L’Arche, Christina’s experience would have been quite different. I will be forever grateful that L’Arche and all it stands for came into our lives ~ Diane Bruce, Christina’s mother and an advocate for L’Arche 

Melina’s Story

Melina is truly young at heart, in spite of the fact that she came to L’Arche over 40 years ago

In her early days, Melina worked at L’Arche Wood Products where she helped make shelving that was sold to local businesses. Today, Melina uses her amazing memory and her artistic ability to create birthday cards for her friends and for many others connected with L’Arche.

Melina is a quiet, friendly observer of life around her. For someone who is supposedly slowing down, Melina’s life is very full. She’s committed to her church, her friends, her health and her favourite hobby—jigsaw puzzles.

It’s through the support of our donors that Melina has a place to call home, celebrate with others, and share her gifts.

Finding a deeper connection

As a L’Arche Assistant, Anesia is building deeper connections with everyone

A native of Brampton, Ontario, Anesia heard about L’Arche from a friend who lived in one of our communities in Ontario. She was intrigued by the idea of an intentional community of people with and without disabilities.

Coming to L’Arche Greater Vancouver to serve and learn more about this unique way of living, Anesia shares that she learns new things about herself and about others every day. She’s learning about being compassionate, thinking of others first, and making an effort to truly connect with those around her.  

Anesia really likes the fact that, at L’Arche, everyone makes a concerted effort to show up and to check in with each other. Now she finds herself building deeper connections with everyone she meets, even outside of L’Arche.

Our Neighbour Ann Marshal

Ann lived across the fence from Nazirah House, one of our L’Arche homes, for years

Without family close by, she became part of the L’Arche family. Our Neighbours Helping Neighbours (NHN) crew took care of her yard and, when she wasn’t able to get groceries on her own, they would take her shopping. The trip would end with her treating the crew to coffee at Tim Hortons. It was their Friday routine.

Patrick, who lives at Nazirah House and is part of the NHN crew, had a special bond with Ann. He had known her most of his life. They attended the same church and, when Patrick’s mother passed away, Ann filled that space in his heart.

Ann often remarked that she didn’t know how she would have coped without L’Arche. What began as our NHN crew tending to her garden many years ago, developed into a beautiful friendship. When Ann passed away last year, her L’Arche family was by her side. We all miss her and the anchor she was for our neighbourhood.

Forever family

Jennifer has a long history with L’Arche Greater Vancouver that began before she was born

Her parents, Anne and Roy, met while living and working at L’Arche and continued to be connected as their family grew.

Jennifer sees L’Arche as a gift that shaped her life, with the community as her extended family. Some of her fondest memories are of time spent with Sue Allen. Jennifer remembers how Sue would play with her during community gatherings or while her mom was working in one of the homes. Looking back, she didn’t see Sue as a person with Down Syndrome – she was just one of her friends whom she played with. Jennifer remembers that, not only did she consider Sue a friend, but also as someone with authority. “If Sue would tell me not to do something, I wouldn’t dare do it.”

“Being raised around people with special needs taught me that no matter how different we are or what abilities we possess, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and we all have something to learn from each other.”

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