ThE GatheringS - L`Arche Toronto
To make known the gifts of people with
developmental disabilities revealed through
mutually transforming relationships
To foster an environment in
communities that responds to the changing
needs of our members, while being faithful to
the core values of our founding story
By April MacConnell
To engage in our diverse cultures working
together towards a more human society
L'Arche is an international federation of 135
communities where people with
developmental disabilities and those who care
for them live, work and share life together.
Canadian Jean Vanier founded L’Arche in
France in 1964.
L’Arche Toronto has four homes in Toronto's
east end. Members work or participate in day
programs or work/volunteer placements
throughout the city. Easy access to public
transit- the TTC, is a key means of getting about
this exciting, challenging and richly diverse city.
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT US
Monthly giving by cheque, Visa or
The Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir will be performing this benefit concert for L'Arche Toronto
as part of their 15th anniversary season. This choir is internationally acclaimed and has a founding belief that we can always improve ourselves and our great world by searching for the common ground in one another. This is the second of what we hope becomes an annual event for us
following the success of the Common Thread Chorus of Toronto benefit concert that was held
last year. Please join us for this wonderful evening of traditional Welsh music and song. L'Arche
Toronto's Sol Express will also be performing. Contact Mike Mackenzie at 416-406-2869 ext 26
Become 'au courant' with the 2010
L'Arche Toronto Calendar. Twelve Toronto
businesses have come together to sponsor
this collection of original art work created
by the core members of L'Arche Toronto.
Each month features a painting, a profile
of the artist, and a little bit about L'Arche
and the Toronto community. This is a great
create a world where seasonal gift that will hopefully give a bit of
inspiration all year long. Quantities are
limited and you can order through the
Development Office at
416-406-2869 ext 26.
Give on line at www.canadahelps.org
visit us at www.larchetoronto.org
For information on any of these,
please contact our Development Office
Monday evenings at 7:00
(except the last Monday of each month
or holiday Mondays)
Please call (416) 406-2869 ext. 33
The Gatherings is published by
L’Arche Toronto’s Development Office
186 Floyd Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4J 2J1
Charitable Reg No: 86072 8179 RR0001
Editing by Kathy Baroody/Amy DeMoulin
Production by Mike Mackenzie
Printing of the Gatherings generously donated
by Mike Sanham at TI group
WELCOME to L'Arche Toronto's newest assistants!
From the back Left: Alex Funke,Taeyeon Kim, Hannah
Mackie, April MacConnell (Asssistants Coordinator),
Andrea Librado, Barbara Erochina, Coryn Stehouwer,
Dalreen Soares, Danielle Hidber and Mark Mann.
We are excited about the fresh perspective that these
young assistants will bring to our homes.
Life in L’Arche Toronto is constantly growing and changing. In fact, learning to live with change is a big part of community life. The way we attract
assistants has had to change as well. When L’Arche first began Jean Vanier
would give talks and retreats all over the world where many young people
would come to listen, be inspired and then decide to come and experience
L’Arche. Today, the world is a very different place than it was in the 1960s
and 70s. Young people hold different values than 40 years ago, and Jean Vanier is officially retired as of the L’Arche International Federation Meeting
last October in India.
When it comes to the recruitment of new generations of assistants, we
need to look at creative alternatives. A great deal of effort has gone into
reflecting about how we can communicate the values of L’Arche to young
people in a way that enables them to see that making a choice to share their
lives with core members can be a rich experience that will transform their
The new assistants this year have come to us mostly through word of
mouth – having been encouraged by individuals who have already lived in
a L’Arche community, hearing talks about L’Arche, participating in events
co-hosted by L’Arche and other organizations, and doing university co-op
placements with us. We have learned that when we take the risk to share
who we are, people are touched and take a risk to make a change in their
lives by joining our community.
The fruit of all the change that is involved in community living became
evident during our first L’Arche Toronto Alumni weekend this past spring.
One of the most touching moments of the weekend was when alumni shared
about their lives today and the way that being in L’Arche has contributed to
and helped shape who they are. We were struck that every single alumnus/
alumna had chosen to help make the world a better, more humane place.
“I learned the meaning of support and community in L’Arche. This shaped
how I listen and respond to the people who are in my care. I work in the
health care field. I do not take the importance of community and support for
“I received a very warm welcome when I first came to L’Arche. This welcome helped me feel safe and I came to realize my gifts in this environment.
Today, I put a lot of energy into making my home feel warm and welcoming
to all who enter it. L’Arche taught me about the importance of welcoming
people well and how welcoming people well can change them for the
“Being in L’Arche changed the type of parent I am today. L’Arche gave me
the tools to let my children be their own people while I teach them gratitude,
respect, and the importance of sharing their feelings and having healthy
The weekend gathering enabled us to see that in all the comings and
goings, we have a profound impact on each others’ lives and that L’Arche
is being faithful to its mission of “working together to create a more human
Jane Powell wilh community core member Janet Munro -File Photo
Supporting our Aging Members
By Jane Powell
This summer I had the privilege of starting
a new part-time role. The role is called
Coordinator of Aging and Changing Needs
of Core Members. The role will include
expanding the way we support people
through various types of grief, promoting
and assisting with end-of-life planning,
partnering and advocating with other
agencies, and helping to assess the type of
care that someone may need.
Over the last number of years, it has
become apparent that we are being called
to support people in different ways. Many
of our core members are entering their
Alley Oop 7
On May 9, L’Arche Toronto hosted the 7th
annual Alley Oop! Bowl-A-Thon at O’Connor
Bowl. With the support of Patrick Egan and
Resolution Tech Inc. we were able to create a Web page which allowed online donor
sponsorship, enabling us to reach many more
friends and contacts beyond the city. For our
first attempt at going high-tech, we were quite
pleased with the outcome. The combined efforts
of traditional and online sponsors helped us to
raise almost $33,000. Many thanks to Raphael
Arens who took the lead in organizing this
year's event. We are already looking forward to
Alley Oop number eight. See you in May 2010!
“golden years.” With this, we have seen
many of our founding members start to
show earlier signs of dementia than would
normally be seen in the majority of the
population. We recognize that this requires
providing more support for some people,
a more “medical” type of support, while at
the same time maintaining a non-clinical
environment in our homes.
When L’Arche first began in 1964,
the age gap between assistants and core
members was nominal. Assistants and core
members were all young adults sharing in
the many aspects of creating a home and
building a community together. Today,
40 years later, assistants still come to
L’Arche in their early twenties, but the
people they are assisting and living with
By all accounts, our annual core member
summer holidays were not dampened by the
unpredictable summer weather we’ve had.
Despite dodging rainstorms, we still ventured
to cottages in Huron County and Bancroft
while others did house swaps with L’Arche
Ottawa and L’Arche Quebec. There was also
one “staycation” group who did some day
trips from home including a weekend at the
Cedars Retreat house at the L'Arche Daybreak
community in Richmond Hill. The cottagers
had campfires and tried out the go-carts, the
Quebec group visited old Quebec City and
no doubt more than one café, and the Ottawa
group enjoyed the By-Ward Market, learned
the finer points of Wii fitness, and somehow
managed to get a VIP tour of the Peace Tower
at Parliament Hill.
are considerably more fragile and quite a
bit older! This requires a very particular
formation for assistants and of course
more funding to meet these changing
needs. It has affected the way we organize
life in our homes and our community.
The pace and rhythm of our day needs to
reflect this shift so that it can slow down
as people are slowing down.
In L’Arche, we want to provide this
extra care in a way that remains person
and relationship focused. The L’Arche
Ontario Regional paper, “A Vision of
Supporting our Members with Intellectual
Disabilities as They Age and Die” states,
“We have discovered that relationships of
mutuality between those with a labeled
disability and those who support them
can become even deeper as they age,
experience dementia, or are dying.”
We know these relationships are lived
not only with considerable pain, but also
with considerable personal transformation.
They can be a tremendous witness to
the healing power of love revealed in
the vulnerability of loss. This witness
has deeply touched the lives of our
communities, families, friends, and many
in the wider community.
I am inspired by the visits of many
community members to Tim at his new
home at Chester Village, Dorothy’s
rekindled joy in life with her increased
vision after surgery, and the individualized
way that Patsy’s home and programs
support her. My hope is that I and the
community will be able to deepen in our
commitment to people as we accompany
them during this next phase of their life.
Nathan and Robert try out the go-carts
Photo Dawn Paulson
An Introduction to
With help from Nathan Klaehn
NK: How did you hear about L’Arche?
RG: It was through Community Living
Toronto. I looked at some brochures
about L’Arche Toronto. Then we set up
a meeting with someone named Amy.
I didn’t know she was the community
leader at the time. They called me a
couple of weeks later and said that they
had a spot and wondered if I would be
interested in moving in. I said “Yes.”
NK: So when did you move into
RG: It was actually in March.
NK: What do you do during the day?
Sol Express, L’Arche
Toronto’s Creative Arts Program,
has expanded again! As of
September 1, we now have three
components to the program. The
original core group, with a few
more new members, will focus
on skills training leading to performances. A smaller group will
have the opportunity to learn
skills to help them co-facilitate
our weekly high school retreats.
Finally, there is also a weekly
Creative Encounters day for
those who want to explore their
creative side through visual arts,
theatre games, and character and
story development without having to perform.
RG: I’ve been going to a program called
ADDUS. I like the day trips. We went
to a farm and to the Toronto Island for
ice cream. With Pegasus, I tried dragonboat racing. I also volunteer at the World
Association for Christian Communication.
I work in the photocopy room. Over the
summer I volunteered at a food bank at
Woodbine Heights Baptist Church. I also
study Braille and computer keyboarding.
NK: In the fall you are going to be the
newest member of Sol Express. What do
you think that will be like?
RG: They will be teaching me how to be
an actor and maybe different ways to do
drama. Maybe I’ll be acting in a couple of
plays. I am the narrator for a short movie
that they are doing.
NK: I know you have already been to a
few community events and celebrations.
What other fun stuff have you done?
Dancing the River was a
wonderful success. The combined efforts of L’Arche
Daybreak’s Spirit Movers and
L’Arche Toronto’s Sol Express
resulted in an incredible theatrical journey at the Richmond Hill
Centre for Performing Arts. The
original work was part of the
40th Gala Anniversary celebrations for Daybreak, Canada’s first
L’Arche community. Paintings by
community members were auctioned off at the dessert reception
that followed. The artwork from
Toronto was photographed and is
featured in the L’Arche Toronto
calendar for 2010. Check out the
back page to see how you can
RG: I went and listened to the orchestra at
Roy Thompson Hall. I went to the Blue Jays
game one day.
NK: So community life sounds pretty good
so far. Is there anything that has been hard
RG: I could say that living with more people, and living with some real characters, has
been an adjustment for me. Sharing a bathroom in the morning rush with other people
has been a bit of an adjustment.
NK: What was your technique for getting to
know so many people? Any tips?
RG: Just laughing a lot with people and
asking people what their name is and being
welcoming and knowing at least one activity
that they like to do. I’ve gotten to know a lot
of people in the L’Arche community because
they’re nice and they have shown a lot of
interest in getting to know someone new.
NK: Anything else that you want to say?
RG: No. There isn’t anything else that I
would like to talk about.
Learning to be taught
A reflection by Jean Vanier
In L'Arche, assistants discover that they are
called to announce good news to people
in need and to reveal to them the immense
love God has for them. Sometimes these
assistants truly lead people with a disabilty
over the threshold and into faith. But once
over the threshold, people with a disability
truly lead the assistants deeper into faith;
they become our teachers.
Jean Vanier, Community and Growth
Chris Butler celebrated his
30th birthday on June 30 with
a movie theatre theme night at
the Gathering Place. He loved
the popcorn machine. The party
decorations rivaled any red carpet film festival.
Michael Ross celebrated his
40th birthday on August 14 with
a carnival in the driveway of
Greenwood House. It was an
afternoon filled with games, face
painting and a BBQ.
Jillian Roberts’ 50th birthday
celebration was highlighted by
an icecream sundae party on
September 19. Fifty years and a
choice of 50 different toppings.
Community Wish List
Dinner set for 12.........................$200
Twin bed sheets..........................$200
Living room chairs.................. $1,200
Don't forget you can also donate securities
without having to pay capital gains tax.
For more information please contact
at L'Arche Toronto 416-406-2869 ext 26