Aaron Kinyon and Robyn Dowell chat in the back yard of a L'Arche home in Portland.
L’Arche Portland last week received an award from Portland city officials for making a difference.
The Catholic-inspired ministry creates communities of people with disabilities and people without. The groups live together and members help each other grow personally, socially and spiritually.
The initial planning group for L'Arche in Portland, which gathered 25 years ago, was made up of people from the Archdiocese of Portland. The future Cardinal William Levada was the new archbishop at the time; he gave organizers a no-interest loan to help purchase the first home for L'Arche.
"In time, L’Arche was incorporated separately as a non-profit organization, but will always have its roots in our archdiocese," says Dorothy Coughlin, longtime director of the archdiocese's Office for People with Disabilities.
City Commissioner Amanda Fritz gave the Making a Difference Awards to people and groups "who go above and beyond to make Portland more inclusive for people with disabilities."
L’Arche Portland has two homes in Southeast Portland, about a mile apart, licensed by the Multnomah County Adult Care Home Program. In each home there are four core members (adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities) and three assistants (caregivers) who share life with them. There are others who participate in the daily life of the community, but do not live in the homes.
"We welcome each person's unique gifts and challenges, and offer opportunities for personal growth and transformation," says a statement from L'Arche submitted to the city. "We trust in God and live as a sign that love, respect and interdependence are the path to a peaceful and just world."
The local L’Arche Portland community is part of an international federation of communities begun in France in 1964. There are now 137 L’Arche communities in 40 countries around the world. The name means "The Arc."
Also recognized by the city were Access Recreation, Shauna Perkins, Robyn Thorson and Dean Westwood.