L’Arche Erie welcomes adults with intellectual disabilities (core members) who require a broad range of supports. When L’Arche welcomes a new core member, we anticipate that he or she will live in L’Arche for life. For that reason, openings in our seven homes are infrequent and we move through the selection process carefully.
A number of factors go into the decision, including whether the prospective core person is interested in living in an intentional community. We do not discriminate based on cultural, religious, or financial background.Contact Us
L’Arche Erie recognizes that it cannot meet the need for housing in Nothwestern Pennsylvania alone. L’Arche Erie is proud to work alongside other providers and advocates in NWPA to reveal the gifts of and improve the quality of life for all people with intellectual disabilities.
L’Arche community will often comprise one or several households or foyers, where members with and without a disability share their lives; in addition, many communities run a workshop or day activity centre to extend the abilities of both those living in the community households as well as externs. Communities vary greatly in size, the largest being the original L’Arche community in France, which numbers more than 100 active people working and living in 10 different homes and work settings.
Across all five continents, L’Arche promotes the well-being of each member, regardless of their faith, religious or philosophical tradition. Each community is founded in the context of a specific culture, and naturally the members come from that culture, bringing with them their beliefs and cultural background. Whether one is Christian, Hindu, Muslim or one of the many who stand outside the major faith traditions, the experience of living together leads to a better understanding of our common humanity, and the life-spirit that enables such a very diverse group of people to live in harmony together. Given L’Arche’s stated aim to help each person develop and fulfill their potential, the community is led naturally to respond to their needs, whether physical, intellectual, emotional, relational or spiritual.
People who have intellectual disabilities need support in their everyday lives. In L’Arche, people who choose to share their life ‘assist’ them in a wide variety of tasks: cooking, household maintenance, medical or personal care, gardening… The term ‘assistant’ includes both volunteers and employees. The role can involve sharing the life of the home, working in a workshop or taking on leadership. People choose to get involved in community life, in various ways and for varying periods, and L’Arche welcomes them all. A lot of young people come just for a year with us, while others want to commit themselves for much longer.
Inclusion means enabling people with disabilities to take their place in society, giving them the means to express themselves and contribute. There are three levels of inclusion: the person, as a subject of their own life is at the center of where their support project is being developed, is the master of their project; the person is not only “supported” by the institution, but they also have responsibilities, participating in the thought process, the decision-making, the elaboration of the vision; in society, the person is a full citizen and can speak to defend their rights or commit to a cause, like everyone else.
L’Arche, the French word for an ark, as in Noah’s Ark, was the name given to the original home created by Jean Vanier Trosly-Breuil, France, where he began to live with Philippe Seux and Raphael Simi, two people with intellectual disabilities. Subsequent houses founded in Trosly received individual names, although collectively they were all under the L’Arche umbrella. Other communities that got started in France and elsewhere have followed suit, although those in India, founded in a Hindu context prefer to use the term Asha Niketan, meaning House of Welcome. Soon, all the L’Arche communities around the world decided to join together in the International Federation of L’Arche Communities, better known today as L’Arche International. This term has also commonly come to refer to the international structure set up to support the communities.