L’Arche Boston North Testimonials

“L’Arche is a place where people with and without intellectual disabilities live together in community. If you are employed in the human service industry, I’ll tell you that L’Arche can sometimes look similar to a group home, except that care-givers and care-receivers live under the same roof and pictures of us together fill the walls and refrigerator doors of our houses. If you are a friend, I’ll tell you that L’Arche exists primarily to serve as a sign of hope to the world. That’s my favorite way.”

–Lacy Tannous

“Home is where the heart is, or so the saying goes. For us, it’s a comfort zone – and a place to hang our hats and coats, settle into a cozy atmosphere of peace and tranquility, and bring us a sense of gratitude when you consider the alternative. Such a settlement is L’Arche Boston North, a home for developmentally disabled adults who otherwise might be institutionalized or worse yet, homeless. Internationally, L’Arche is more than 135 communities. In Haverhill, nestled within a neighborhood setting, are four of these homes. I could easily call them comfort zones or as the logo reads: “Homes of Hope.” It is where residents or core members come for a sense of security, growth, purpose and well being.”

–Tom Vartabedian

“My experience with L”Arche last year has been enriching beyond belief. I have developed friends within the community in Haverhill and feel that they have taught me so much. This organization’s model, which believes everyone has a purpose and holds importance, is so unique and so heart wrenching. I would suggest to anyone to not only do an immersion program at L’Arche, but also think about applying to work with one of the L’Arche communities located throughout the world.”

–Sean MacKenzie, College of the Holy Cross – Class of 2015

“I have attended fund raising events for L’Arche and witnessed the positive interaction between staff and clients/core members of this community of caring individuals. It is clear the members feel valued, included and are provided with a culture of caring which allows them to self-actualize and to be fulfilled spiritually.”

–Deb R.

“As an Assistant who works with the adults and lives with them daily, I find such a rewarding experience everyday as I grow and share life with them. I believe so many volunteers or people from the community can help by using their special gifts with the adults as well as enjoying a laugh, smile or experience that will bring a smile and joy to their day. I enjoy going to the disco with them each month, or as we dig into ice cream sundaes at Friendly’s or even just standing and watching the Christmas Parade you get to see such wonderful smiles and enjoyment to their lives.”


L’Arche Irenicon is a great non-profit organization that supports people with developmental disabilities. These homes provide a family like atmosphere allowing both those who have an intellectual disability (core members) and those who do not (assistants), to create a home, to develop their gifts, to build friendships or just simply enjoy life. L’Arche communities are also places of welcome, of prayer and of support for families and friends, volunteers and neighbors. L’Arche is nondenominational welcoming people of all faiths and cultures.

L’Arche Irenicon “Homes of Hope” Haverhill/Bradford community owns four homes providing homes for sixteen (16) adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities ages 22 and over. L’Arche is always welcoming new people into their community to volunteer or come and share their artistic talent with our members.”


A Saturday Walk To the College

-A reflection on life at L’Arche Boston North from Hannah Robison

“It’s March and winter has lost all its charm but refuses to leave.  The grey days are growing more weary. Yet another snowstorm has blown through leaving the world once again piled in more snow.

But today, on this quiet lazy Saturday afternoon, the sun is shining. The snow is melting on our front porch and dripping off the roof across the street. It is the perfect day to be outside. In an effort to peel myself off of the couch and unglue myself from yet another made-for-TV movie, I suggest a walk to my housemates. Of course, the only taker is Katie.

We don our jackets and Katie pulls on her pink gloves with animal faces sewn onto the fingers. With my hands in my pockets, Katie slips her hand through my arm.  “Let’s walk to the college,” Katie suggests. So we head in the direction of the small struggling college two blocks away.

“When I was small,” Katie puts her hand out in front of her designating a height at her waist, “I jump roped with my mom.”

I try to picture Katie smaller than her current stature of four foot six inches as I wonder what prompted this self-disclosure. Needing a visual aid to imagine an even smaller Katie jump roping I make a request, “Show me how you used to jump rope.”

Katie releases my elbow so she can throw her hands up in the air with an invisible jump rope as she does a hybrid jump-hop in which neither foot fully leaves the ground. She laughs, “I jumped high.”

We walk a while in silence. I guide Katie around puddles. We hold each other steady as we cross over the unavoidable icy patches. My right hand has left my coat pocket and found itself in Katie’s mittened grip.  I glance down at the little lady walking hand-in-hand with me, her purple headband askew upon her silver streaked black hair.

“How are you Katie?”

“I’m good…I’m good. I am good.”


Another silence ensues. We are now on the college campus, void of students, walking between the vacated dorms.  Is it a holiday or does everyone always leave for the weekend?  I am feeling rather pensive and so I ask Katie, “How do you feel about life?” I have to ask twice before she hears me and even then there is no response. Perhaps this is too abstract a question to ask a woman with Down syndrome who often only repeats what I say. Can she even grasp abstract concepts?

“I like the sun.” I am surprised by Katie’s voice breaking through my thoughts. She repeats herself. For emphasis? Or perhaps to be sure I heard? Or maybe to understand for herself what she has just shared. “I like the sun.”

“Oh good. You like the sun.”

“I do like the sun.”


I return to my reflective reverie on life. But it’s interrupted again by the little voice at my elbow, “That’s life.” Katie reflects another moment and repeats with assurance, “That’s life.”

Katie understood. She understood better than I did. Here I am thinking I am intelligent and wise because I can ask questions stemming from my discontented existential angst. Here I am thinking I am better than her because I can ask a simple question. I don’t even have an answer. I am content to remain in my existential questions. Or rather content to stay in discontentment. What is life? Why do we live? How do I feel about this life? What is this life all about? But Katie brings me down to earth, to the wonder of today. She understood the question better than I and had an answer deeper than my initial query.

After days of clouds, rain, and a snowstorm the sun is out at last. The sun is shining right now. We are on a walk in it. The sun is good and I like it. That is life. Life is good and I like it.

Katie, thank you for your wisdom.