L'Arche is the French word for ark. Founded in France as a Catholic-based community 50 years ago, the organization strives to create inclusive communities for people with and without intellectual disabilities. Much like Noah's ark, which preserved life, L'Arche provides a place of acceptance and inclusivity. L'Arche's mission statement says, "Mutual relationships and trust in God are at the heart of our journey together."
There are 147 communities worldwide, including 18 in the United States. Two L'Arche homes, known as L'Arche Wavecrest, are in Orange County. L'Arche was founded to defeat disability discrimination and provide a safe haven for those with disabilities.
Santa Margarita Catholic High School began partnering with the organization over the past few years. Activities have included pen pal outreach with COVID restrictions, community garden clean-up, no-sew blankets for senior citizens and a summer barbeque which included games and sand art.
"L'arche has been a blessing that has allowed me to build relationships with each person and has created a wonderful community that I look forward to spending time with each month," said Nicole Sleiman '23.
SMCHS partners with Wavecrest on the first Saturday of each month.
"Volunteering with L'Arche has been like no other. It has provided me with a sense of community that I have truly never experienced before. I look forward to seeing each of my friends at L'Arche every month, and it is equally if not more heartwarming to see how excited they are for our return," Celine Bacily '23.
L'Arche leaves a lasting impact on core members and volunteers. "My favorite thing about this program has been the ability to build friendships with the core members of the L'Arche community. The genuine care among the groups is apparent and builds with each visit," said Donald Green, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry. The organization values each person and their need to connect.
To get involved, contact Donald Green.