L'Arche Homes to Open in Metro Richmond - Press Release
L'Arche Metro Richmond
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Introducing L'Arche Metro Richmond - L’Arche USA to Open in Metro Richmond
Homes where adults with and without disabilities will live together slated to open in 2017
In a unanimous decision the L’Arche USA Board of Directors voted to welcome two new projects—communities soon to open their front doors. The vote was followed by applause and a few misty eyes.
“This is the result of hard work, faithful prayer, thoughtful reflection, and an abundance of energy, commitment, and endurance,” Tina Bovermann, L’Arche USA’s executive director, wrote in her official letter welcoming L’Arche Metro Richmond and L’Arche Long Island and to become official projects of the national organization.
Indeed, each of these dreams to build a L’Arche community has been at least five years in the making. L'Arche Metro Richmond is now one step closer to full membership in L’Arche USA and International Federation of L’Arche.
L’Arche communities in the United States provide homes and workplaces where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers, create inclusive communities of faith and friendship, and transform society through relationships that cross social boundaries. At the heart of L’Arche are the adults who have intellectual disabilities—known as “core members”—and the relationships that arise from a shared life.
During the “project” stage, L'Arche Metro Richmond will focus on implementing the strategic plan designed in their pre-founding period. This stage also includes: identifying people with a disability and assistants to be welcomed; beginning fundraising in earnest; establishing relationships and agreements with government agencies and other organizations; and deepening contacts with local religious leaders and groups.
Cheryl Emory has been with the group involved in starting L’Arche Metro Richmond from the beginning. She and her daughter Virginia, along with mother-daughter duo Marybeth and Anne Meacham, were introduced to the idea through a video about L’Arche. When the video was over, Virginia and Anne exclaimed in unison, “I want to live there!”
Joined by a third mother-daughter pair, Ann Penny and Hannah Filer, the group visited L’Arche Blue Ridge Mountains in Lynchburg, Virginia. “We experienced something unique and precious that was missing in our area,” Emory said. According to the United Cerebral Palsy Case for Inclusion, Virginia ranks forty-first out of all fifty states and the District of Columbia in how well State Medicaid programs serve Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. States are ranked in four categories: promoting independence; promoting productivity (as evidenced by satisfactory lives and valued social roles); keeping families together and reaching those in need; and tracking health, safety, and quality of life. In addition to its low ranking, the report concludes that 6,672 Virginians are on a waiting list for residential services.
While L’Arche alone cannot meet the demand for housing, it does aim to inspire other providers and society as a whole to see those who have intellectual disabilities as gifted and valued people with something to offer.
“L’Arche is a role model of respect, dignity, and love—it’s an inspiration that multiplies far beyond the home,” Emory said.
According to Emory, Metro Richmond plans to open its doors to core members by September 2017. The group is currently assessing properties and will look to hire an executive director in late 2016. To inquire about living at L’Arche, prospective core members who have a Medicaid waiver should be in touch with their Community Service Board support coordinator, and can request being added to L’Arche Metro Richmond’s list serve for information and updates. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bovermann has made growth a priority for L’Arche USA. “With each new community comes not just quality care for adults who have intellectual disabilities but real, life-changing friendships for people of all abilities,” she said.
L’Arche USA is currently working with start-up groups to launch L’Arche in five new cities, offering expertise and guidance in the areas of strategic planning, fundraising and communications, understanding government regulations, and best practices for building a healthy, sustainable community.
Bovermann said the L’Arche USA office receives inquiries every week from others who long to have a L’Arche community nearby. In 2016, she plans to expand the national office’s capacity to respond to these inquiries.
L’Arche USA is part of an international federation of L’Arche communities that seeks to make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships. There are more than 145 L’Arche communities in 35 countries, including 20 in the United States.
In 2015, L’Arche founder Jean Vanier received the Templeton Prize, valued at $1.7 million, and honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Vanier believes that those who have intellectual disabilities, when fully welcomed in society, can be sources of healing, joy, unity, and peace in our world. To learn more, visit www.LarcheUSA.org.
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