A momentous year: L'Arche London elevates belonging and inclusivity with the Gathering Place

Mar. 05, 2018

From Celebrating Canada’s 150th with Doors Open to celebrating 20 years in the community with sugar maple trees and a brand new Gathering Place, L’Arche London has elevated belonging and inclusivity to a new level in 2017.

Celebrating and embracing individuals with intellectual disabilities, L’Arche London has been around since 1997. They work with individuals with intellectual disabilities to discover their gifts and abilities, and support them to achieve their goals for a meaningful life.

Ever since we’ve had the opportunity to grant to L’Arche London through a Canada 150 grant this past summer, we’ve been astounded by their incredible achievements.

Their grant request was fairly modest – they simply needed some additional funding to partake in Doors Open, engaging the community through the planting of trees at their new building, the Gathering Place. What has happened since is a community coming together, thriving in a space where they feel welcomed, in a culture of belonging.

Our Director of Grants, Lori Runciman, had the privilege to do a site visit in February:

“The biggest impression on me after my visit is that there are over 400 people in London/Middlesex on the [Developmental Services Ontario] waitlist for day programming. The Gathering Place is a much needed facility in our community that will help chip away at that, but the need is great.”

2017 marked the year that L’Arche opened the doors to their new space, the Gathering Place, in Lambeth, at the exact same time they celebrated 20 years of service and Canada’s 150th birthday. The Gathering Place provides a caring environment for people from all walks of life through rich and varied participation thanks to a variety of activities such as potlucks, music, arts and crafts, and cooking. It’s an inspiring space that encourages growth, independence, and dignity of all.

“These programs embrace individuals with intellectual disabilities, creating a more inclusive community where barriers are removed, allowing them to celebrate their gifts, and where diversity is valued and celebrated.” - Ann Ramundo, Director of Development, L'Arche London

After touring the space and enjoying some treats from their very own café (run by program participants), Lori acknowledged the beauty and uniqueness of the space: “The Gathering Place name reflects perfectly the atmosphere they’re creating – a warm welcoming place where everyone belongs and can engage with activities and each other.”

If you have but a moment to spare on a Thursday morning, their Bonjour Café is open 9 AM – 12 PM. You’ll not only be certain to receive personalized service, but you’ll get a true sense for their welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. Everyone matters at L’Arche. They demonstrate the epitome of belonging and community.

Congratulations, L’Arche, once again, on creating a beautiful space for your community.  We’re so happy we had the opportunity to be a part of it.