Growth in Ontario, by John Guido, 2014

Choluteca Honduras

Choluteca Honduras

Last year at the National Council, Hollee Card shared this picture of a bridge in Choluteca, Honduras. It is still standing after Hurricane Mitch, but the river has moved. It’s a solid bridge, but it is a bridge to nowhere. L’Arche at all levels is exploring new ways for growth of the ways we share life and provide supports. We are choosing growth that allows us to live our Identity and Mission in new ways in response to the changes in our world, the cry of those who need a place to belong, and the needs and desires of our members. We desire to ensure that the structure remains strong yet true to the gift of our founding 50 years ago.

In Ontario, we have been talking about ‘new models’ and ways of growth for many years. We know that we have tried different ways of living L’Arche beyond the traditional home and day programs (SIL, family home, behavioural supports home, dance and arts programs, etc.). We had been anticipating cuts to government funding that would free up dollars to support the many people on waitlists for homes and other services. We have heard the cry of individuals in vulnerable situations and families who at the breaking point.

Today, the Government of Ontario is making a major investment in new services. At the same time, L’Arche Canada is developing directions for growth and seeking funds to help accomplish it. We are in front of a great opportunity to fund not only new supports but also new ways of living.

At the Assembly, we looked together at Canada’s directions for Growth. In parallel process, the core members and the Assistants/Board groups looked at what we know about growth’s challenges and possibilities. We spoke of some of the things communities are doing so that others might be inspired. The Assistant/Board group met by community to speak of opportunities/challenges for them. We agreed that L’Arche Ontario remains open to being a pilot for founding a new community perhaps without group home funding at the core.

We are open to growth. We are aware that growth can be challenging and that we must be careful how we do it. We know that there are simple ways we can grow doing more of what we already do. Communities can try new things that other communities already do. We will need to develop capacity for more innovative growth (e.g. creating a home with individualized funding, a small apartment building, respite care, drop-ins). L’Arche Canada is committed to support pilot projects and new MCSS funding will be annualized. The role of the region will emerge but certainly include sharing experience and plans.

L’Arche has been growing and developing for 50 years. From these deep roots, we are ready to spread our branches and grow new fruit. We continue to pray that the Spirit will energize us with wisdom, creativity, and the grace that we need to be faithful to our calling as L’Arche as we grow.