We welcome each opportunity to introduce people to the life and spirit of L’Arche. You may have an interest in working with people who have disabilities, a spiritual resonance with L’Arche’s vision of mutuality and solidarity with persons who are marginalized, a desire to immerse yourself in community, or a sense that there must be something more to life. We’re eager to hear from you, please contact us to get started! There are several ways to participate in L’Arche:
Join us in our homes—we are always happy to welcome volunteers, not only because they help us out, but because they almost inevitably become part of our community—people with whom we have fun and pray and celebrate and share the charism of L'Arche. There are no specific age or education requirements. All we ask is that you have a desire to develop mutual relationships with the core members and assistants. After that, we will help you find a way to use your particular talents and skills.
Partner with us financially—our donors are vital partners in our mission to make L'Arche a dynamic home rather than a typical residential supported living site. What is particularly innovative in the L'Arche model is that our supportive living is communal, relational and reciprocal. In our model, the core members, those with disabilities, are equally responsible to the best of their abilities, for creating home, sharing and nurturing faith, welcoming guests, witnessing peace and friendship. They attend and host regional, national and even international L'Arche gatherings. These qualities are fundamental to L'Arche and require financial resources beyond the core members' means.
Help us with your hands—because we are a small community and a not for profit organization, those who work for us wear many hats. We welcome and depend on skilled volunteers to help us with or take on certain functions. From office administration to home repairs to photography, we can use your hands!
Join our board—the Board of Directors champions, invites, and invests in the mission of our community. Board members serve three year terms. We're looking for board members with experience in fundraising and grantwriting, accounting and bookkeeping, personnel management, public policy, advocacy and disability services, and strategic planning–among other things!
Join our Young Professionals Board - As an extension of the development committee of the Board of Directors, the Young Professionals Board helps L’Arche Chicago develop new relationships in the community, fundraise, and engage others in the mission of L’Arche Chicago via social media, social functions, and volunteering at L’Arche Chicago events.
Many of our former assistants describe their time living in community with people with and without disabilities as one of the most significant experiences of their life. Life in community can be challenging, but it's often in these places that we discover the true depths of the human spirit. We have continual openings for live-in assistants; begin your journey in L'Arche with our assistant application. You may contact us to begin the conversation.
What is a L'Arche assistant?
At L'Arche, persons with an intellectual disability are known as "core members," and "assistants" are those who come to share life with them. Assistants accompany core members in their activities of daily life: creating home and supporting core members in sharing their gifts within the house and the larger community.
What do assistants do?
Assistants build a relationship of mutual care and support with persons with disabilities; foster a home life of unity, mutual respect and participation by all members; and provide direct care supports and skill building for core members: personal care needs, money management, medical care, appointments, family and work connections, household chores, laundry, medications, meal preparation, and transportation.
Who can become a L'Arche assistant?
For us, some of the most important criteria are an open heart, willingness to learn, commitment to personal growth, and belief in the unique sacredness and value of every individual. Assistants can range in age from the early 20s on up. Assistants come to L'Arche from all stages of life: after college, as a shift from a previous career, or after their formal career. As an international organization, we also often welcome assistants from other countries, which can add a unique cultural diversity to our communities.
Do I need special training to be an assistant?
Some people who come to work in L'Arche have experience working with people with disabilities, but most have not. The first requirement is that applicants have a desire to share life together in a faith community setting. Besides training in skills for caregiving, L'Arche provides formational experiences on broader topics that help its members to reflect on their vision of humanity and to grow in their relationships with others. It does so believing that the quality of life of the people with developmental disabilities is directly affected by the way caregivers think and relate and the view of the world that they hold.
What sort of commitment does L'Arche ask of assistants?
Most assistants dedicate a year or two to L'Arche. Some assistants choose to renew their commitment at the end of that time. Because of the nature of L'Arche, building and fostering intentional relationship and community, a year or two offers community members time to settle into life together. There are also assistants that build a long-term home at L'Arche. The decision to continue living L'Arche is a thoughtful process for each assistant made with support from their peers, community coordinators, and others who surround the assistant in community.
Do assistants receive compensation?
Yes, all of our assistants earn competitive salaries which include room and board benefits (if live-in), health insurance and retirement options, and generous paid time off.
What to expect after submitting your application
After submitting your application, you should hear from us within five days letting you know if you have been invited to continue the process. You will be asked to set up a time to visit our community and we will discuss setting up an interview for the assistant role with you.