Becoming an Assistant in L’Arche
Are you interested in exploring new horizons by joining a community rooted in faith that finds hope and joy in the gifts and challenges of the "ordinary" life lived intentionally? Come and learn from the wisdom of the vulnerable, and grow through the joys and struggles of those who choose to live in community as assistants.
The responsibilities of an Assistant include care-giving, helping to create home, building community and being an accompanier to those with disabilities living in the home. Room and board is provided along with a stipend. Our assistants have come from all over the world, Australia, Austria, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, the Philippines, Scotland, Spain, Sweden and the Ukraine Our American assistants come from all over the country and we've had graduates from a wide variety of schools, Notre Dame, Duke, Gonzaga, San Francisco University, Princeton, as well as local schools, Seattle U, the University of Washington, and Pacific Lutheran to name a few, have come and lived in L’Arche over the years.
We should let you know right away that L'Arche is not an ordinary job but also a choice to participate in a non-denominational spiritual community with a certain lifestyle. Consequently we encourage prospective candidates to come to know us a little – which often involves a visit for a few days -- before making a year’s commitment. Simply by living in a L’Arche community, assistants are often surprised by the new horizons that open up for them through the depth of their experiences and by the way that the people at the heart of a L'Arche community touch their lives. Often their experiences inspire them to find what is truly life-giving by discovering in themselves new gifts through which they develop a clearer sense of direction for the future. As a L'Arche Seattle assistant, you will be invited to create home with us.
There, with two or three other assistants, you will accompany four or five core members (people with a developmental disability) in their activities of daily life, creating a home and developing a relationship with the other members. Besides being able to communicate in English, we ask applicants to have a willingness to learn from and be open to the possibility of being changed through their experiences in community, to embrace the formation and training that L'Arche provides (including learning American Sign Language) to work in a team, to support the members of a home and to participate in the activities of the community. As a candidate for probationary membership, one is not required to have any previous experience with people with a developmental disability or community living. Indeed for many, L’Arche is their first experience of both.
Assistants normally make an initial commitment of one year, with the first three months being a period of orientation and a time for the assistant and the community to discover whether the choice to come to L'Arche is a good fit at a particular time in a person's life.
Assistants receive medical and dental benefits. Each has a certain amount of personal time each day, two days away each week and a month’s vacation after the year.
During the first months, an assistant learns about the values, philosophy and way of life at L'Arche, undergoes extensive training to become a Home Care Aide, and develops relationships with the people in their home. Gradually they will take on more responsibilities. Many assistants decide that, because they are growing and finding life in L'Arche, they will make a further commitment of a second, fifth or more years. Many assistants have found that their time in L'Arche has one of the most formative of their life.