L'ARCHE CHICAGO 2016 - 2017


L’Arche Chicago extends an invitation to come and see the extraordinary beauty of a community of faith that celebrates the gifts of each person, including those with intellectual disabilities.

We are a community where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together in homes, as a family. We strive to merge quality care and mutual relationships, building a community where everyone has a genuine place of belonging.

Our Chicago community joins 148 other L’Arche communities in 37 different countries around the world. We seek to be a sign of hope, revealing the truth that all people, including those with disabilities, have gifts to share.

Letter from the Board President

Our L’Arche Chicago community has continued to grow in many ways during fiscal year 2016-2017. We joyfully experience and share the gifts of our Core Members with intellectual disabilities living in community with Assistants supported by our wonderful staff and Board. In the prior year we added our third home “Friendship House” in Forest Park. We have now experienced the benefits of this larger cluster of homes and increased number of Core Members and Assistants for the entire fiscal year. The anticipated benefits of economies of scale, combined with diligent financial management, have resulted in a substantial improvement in our financial performance. Perhaps more importantly, the expansion has fostered a larger sense of community among our homes and increased interaction and exposure to the neighborhoods around us. We look forward to continued expansion in the future.

Our L’Arche Chicago community of 10 Core Members, 12 livein Assistants, 5 part-time Assistants, excellent support and management staff under the direction of our Community Leader Mic Altena, and the Board of Directors, are all committed to living and sharing the vision of L’Arche as we rejoice in the successes of the year just completed and anticipate the challenges and rewards of the future.

We continue to expand our example of hope – demonstrating that people given different gifts can recognize each other’s worth by living together in community. We share this light of hope for the world by building relationships locally and among the 18 L’Arche Communities in the USA, and through the 148 communities worldwide in the International L’Arche Federation.

The Board is tremendously grateful for your support and presence in our community. You are making a huge impact in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, and the assistants, staff, friends, and neighbors with whom they build relationships. It’s through your support that lives are transformed – thank you!


Jim Richards

Board President

Highlights of 2016-2017


Our three community homes, nestled in residential neighborhoods in Chicago and Forest Park, are the heart of our community. Here we build genuine relationships where everyone is valued in a context of faith and friendship. Our model of shared living (where core members live together with staff members) allows us to provide a unique level of personalized care that, when combined with our coordinated healthcare initiatives, improves quality of life outcomes as demonstrated through industry standard surveys and assessments. We were excited to see these outcomes increase again during 2016-2017.


Our mission is to reveal the gifts of adults with intellectual disabilities. We achieve this by providing opportunities, resources, and support for the core members to be active participants in their neighborhoods and city, by providing monthly outreach and education for those in the Chicago metro area, and by partnering with local universities, medical schools, and professional programs to train students to provide respectful and meaningful care to people with intellectual disabilities. In 2016-2017, we were proud to partner with the Occupational Therapy program at Midwestern University, the Medical School at the University of Illinois, and Northwestern College (Iowa) in formal internship placements, as well as with several local universities and colleges such as Wheaton College, Loyola University, Concordia University, and Dominican University in immersion experiences.


L’Arche is a global movement whose impact can be felt in nearly every corner of the world with 148 communities in 37 countries. Our collective voice advocates for the full and equal participation of people with disabilities around the world, including here in the State of Illinois. Our advocacy is strengthened by the work of our live-in staff members who carry their training and formation with them into new careers and spaces after their annual commitment ends at L’Arche. In 20162017 we sent out 12 staff members to speak on behalf of people with disabilities. We also provide financial resources for L’Arche communities in the developing world, sending $1.9 million in 2016.

Encounter & Transformation

Luca Badetti presenting the annual Spirit of L’Arche award with Elbert Lott

"I share life and work with persons that have intellectual disabilities in L’Arche Chicago, an inclusive reality in which people with and without disabilities create home together and become friends in a spirit of mutual belonging. Together we share meals, outings, rest, and activities of daily life. I have done research with persons with intellectual disabilities during my Disability Studies doctorate. However, when I get out of my little world, I look around and am left wondering: where are the people with intellectual disabilities? Where can they be met?

I still remember one evening some years ago getting back from vacation to the L’Arche home I lived in. Jimmy, a housemate who has Down syndrome, welcomed me back by giving me a big hug and asking me, “Did you miss me?” Did I miss Jimmy while I was away from him? Beyond my own personal response to him and beyond my experience of having Jimmy as housemate and friend, I wonder if society at large even has a meaningful chance to meet people with intellectual disabilities, and therefore to miss them if they are not present.

It is important that we find ways to encounter persons with intellectual disabilities and enter into relationship with them, if they so desire of course, and allow them to reveal their gifts. This is not because they need our pity, but precisely because the wall between the “us and them” should not be. Cultural groups, places of leisure, schools, residential homes, sport teams, workplaces, restaurants, places of worship...these are only some realities in which inclusion can be lived out. Inclusion can be as simple as becoming friends, and doing whatever friends like to do, in the places friends want to be at.

This simplicity of meeting one other, paradoxically, can also lead to a “revolutionary” social change. A society that values efficiency, productivity, and individualism as “the norm” easily rejects those deemed slower, inefficient or needing support. But it is precisely by embracing these latter characteristics - in others, but also in ourselves (!) - that we allow for a new human culture and society to emerge: one that values interdependence, embracing difference and mutual belonging. A society that speaks to the basic human needs we all share as people; a society in which if people with intellectual disabilities were not present, we would know it and we would miss them." - Luca Badetti, PhD - Director of Community Life, L’Arche Chicago


L’Arche Chicago’s community life is centered around three communal homes and ten core members (persons with intellectual disabilities). In addition to lifelong homes, L’Arche provides professional support services and seeks ways for core members to be actively engaged in the civic, social, and spiritual life of the Chicago metropolitan area.

The Board of Directors made a commitment this year to build a reserve fund consisting of a minimum of three months operating expenses in the case of an economic downturn, state funding crisis, or other unforeseen need, reflected in the below reserve fund allocation.

Board of Directors

Jim Richards - President

Bryan Schneider - Vice President

Timothy Andriano - Secretary

Matthew Paprocki - Treasurer

John Biggs

Kimberly Bryze

Mac Coddington

Helen Mendoza

Anthony Suarez-Abraham

Our Supporters

Thank you to the many generous donors whose financial gifts supplement government contracts to make possible a holistic, high quality life for L’Arche members.


1011 Lake Street, Suite 403

Oak Park, Illinois 60301

(708) 660-1600

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