At L’Arche North Bay, it’s all about community inclusion, forming relationships and putting people with developmental disabilities at the heart, or “core”, of the organization. For this reason, people with developmental disabilities are referred to as core members, and they share their lives and homes with the people that support them. It’s like one, big extended family…and now this family has a new home.
“The Kara Foyer Residence was over 100 years old,” explains Martina Getz, Executive Director of L’Arche North Bay. “And of course, with a house of that age comes a lot of needs around repairs and maintenance costs. And it also wasn’t very accessible anymore.”
With many core members facing challenges with mobility, accessibility became a major concern for L’Arche. But because the costs to renovate the Kara Foyer Residence were far too high, L’Arche decided to put in a funding request to the Ontario government to purchase a new, more accessible home. And to their delight, the request was approved.
With the funding, L’Arche was able to buy two semi-detached homes on a quiet residential street. Along with being new and in perfect condition, the homes present several other advantages for L’Arche and its core members.
“It helps us first off to try out a smaller living experience,” Martina explains. “In the new home, there are three core members on each side and two assistants. And it also allows us to increase accessibility.
The new homes offer ramped access, wider doors and hallways, an accessible washroom and open-concept living spaces with lots of room to move around.
Core member Jeanne D’Arc uses a walker. For her, the new home means greater independence and mobility. And for her family members, it means greater peace of mind.
“I thought, ‘This is good news!’,” remarks Monique Leblanc, Jeanne D’Arc’s sister.
Monique says Jeanne D’Arc’s excitement to move was very apparent, and that the family was equally excited for the benefits that the new house would provide.
For both Jeanne D’Arc and her relatives, L’Arche has been like an additional family. The closeness is evident when you see them drop by for a visit, or when you hear of Monique’s recent role as a bridesmaid in one of the support workers’ weddings. And it seems they can’t say enough good things about the organization and what it’s meant for Jeanne D’Arc.
“L’Arche has been something great for my sister,” affirms Monique.
While everyone is now settled in and the anticipation of the move itself may have passed, the happiness over having a new, more accessible home remains.
“Now we know that she has a home that’s home,” says Monique, “and we really appreciate that.”