Humans of L’Arche
This is a picture of me and David. David is a man of few words, but when he does choose to contribute to conversation it is always hilarious. I knew David and I would get along from the moment I made a pretty terrible joke and he was the only one who laughed. I felt a connection with him through our shared sense of humor. My experience at L’Arche was made positive through the beautiful and unique people who shared life with me.
This is Johnny, as you can tell from his big smile, he is a ray of sunshine. Throughout this week, I have gotten the pleasure to get to know him while listening to Johnny Cash music and eating cake, his favorite dessert. He is truly the nicest and most genuine individual I have ever met. I strive to be more like him. I will never forget the moments we shared this week at L’Arche. I hope one day I can go back to Clinton, Iowa and make more memories with Johnny because they are bound to be the absolute best.
Darin and Kenny are two people in the apartment program at L’Arche. Darin is the one giving me bunny ears and Kenny is one hugging me. One of my favorite days of the service trip was the day we spent in the apartments. I really connected with Darin and Kenny, both of them are so fun-loving, genuine and kind. Darin is a beautiful singer and Kenny has one of the kindest souls I have ever encountered. The time I spent with them warmed my heart and filled me with joy.
On the right is Dan. He loves racecars and has a massive collection. I saw that he is a sweet and caring person. He offered us cookies when we were in his home, and they tasted delicious. I enjoyed getting to know him and visiting his apartment. I hope to be able to go back to Clinton, Iowa one day and get to hang out with him some more because he made my day happy and put a smile on my face.
L’Arche is a unique and wonderful place. Each individual, whether a core member, assistant, or Director of Hospitality, has a vital role to the L’Arche community. When you enter into the community, you are welcomed and celebrated with hugs, warm meals, and laughter. I was both nervous and excited to return to the community. However, my nerves were gone the moment I received a warm welcome from Sarah, the Director of Hospitality, and Bob, a core member. Throughout the week, I was constantly amazed by the love and relationships formed in the homes. Assistants shared life with core members even when they “were not on the clock” and expressed love that expected nothing in return. I once again was shown what radical hospitality is and I cannot wait to share it with the campus. I cannot wait to return to L’Arche once again, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Four TRIPS Program trips leave this weekend. See the descriptions below.
Urban Youth (January 7-13, 2017)
Trip Leaders: Maggie Knecht and Fiona Holahan
The urban youth trip to Chicago is one of the longest running TRIPS Program experiences. Groups from SNC have been traveling to St. Benedict the African School for almost 30 years. Participants will work within the school one-on-one with young students and help in the after school program. While in Chicago, students stay at the Amate House and interact with individuals who have committed to a year of post-graduation service.
Children’s Medical Tennessee (Winter-January) (January 7-14, 2017)
Trip Leaders: Davey Holzer and Kelly Theel
Students will volunteer at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital to host special events for the hospitalized kids; spend time with children to give their parents a break; and help brighten the lives of the patients and their families through other tasks. The participants may also assist at sites that provide lodging to families whose children are in treatment at the hospital. Another group traveled to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in December.
HIV/AIDS (January 7-14, 2017)
Trip Leaders: Shannon Salter and Lenka Craigova
This education-focused trip will allow participants to learn more about the impact of HIV/AIDS while visiting organizations addressing the needs of people affected. Students will also show care for those who are affected by this ongoing epidemic and assist in the preparation for fundraisers and other events.
International Medical (January 8-21, 2017)
Trip Leaders: Connor Gullstrand and Haley Nett
Students will travel with Panorama Service Expeditions for a medical brigade. They will work closely with local doctors and medical students in medical consultations and assist in a pharmacy under the direction of licensed pharmacists. Students will serve both urban and rural populations.
As we prepare to leave for our trip tomorrow morning, our group is both excited and nervous for what we may experience over the next week. Each member of our group brings a new and different perspective to our team, which will allow us to grow and expand our outlook on service, HIV/aids, and community. Through these different viewpoints, we can grow through the wonderful individuals and community partners we will meet throughout this next week. We are excited to experience Chicago in a new way, while learning and challenging what we think we know about our social justice issue.
We are not sure what to expect at each of our sites, but we seem to have quite a variety of opportunities ahead of us. Chicago is a new city to a lot of us and certainly more urban that what we’re used to in De Pere. We are a little nervous and excited about taking public transportation — this will be a new experience for some of us. We haven’t planned our leisure day yet so we are looking forward to what the group decides to do for our cultural exploration. Our current idea for post-trip action is to do some kind of educational programming or information sharing on our college campus; We are curious to see if this plan will change after our week of service. Maybe we will be inspired to do something entirely different! It’s hard to know right now.
Lenka is most looking forward to the training we will be getting on how to take action, specifically from the Legal Council for Social Justice and Equality Illinois. Shannon is most excited to be in community and conversation with the different community partners we will meet over the next week.
The highlight from yesterday came from an unexpected source. During our time cooking a giant spaghetti meal for 150 people at the Ronald McDonald house (a place that houses families receiving health care at St. Jude), we met Emily. We were honored to be able to hear her amazing story, and here is some of it for all of you!
After weeks of extreme fatigue, severe headaches, colds, and a far-from-straight path leading to her diagnosis, seventeen-year-old Emily was diagnosed with the rarest and most aggressive form of leukemia in April this year, called Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. Most people affected by this form of leukemia pass away within the first five to ten days after receiving their diagnosis; Emily, however, did not accept this fate. After being flown down to St. Jude post-diagnosis, Emily ultimately chose a new, but unapproved treatment option that would take much less time than the old, typical option, but would also include much more risk. For Emily, it was a clear choice in the end. In the interview, she told us, “My parents explained the risks to me but I didn’t care what the risks were; I’d rather have me be the first kid on it, and it not work on me than have a little kid go through it and it not work on them and they not understand why. I understand why, and I’d rather go through that pain than a child that doesn’t understand it.”
Thankfully, the treatment was a success, and Emily is cancer-free and about to graduate from high school with sights set on college and becoming a politician who fights for the rights of children everywhere. Of course, the well-spoken and funny seventeen-year-old has a big head start on impacting others already, as she has spoken many times about her story around the country. Speaking has been therapeutic for her as well, and she sees it as her way of giving back. She communicated this when she told us what telling her story means to her: It’s my “way of feeling I can do something; I can repay these people. I’m like the Lorax for the kids. The Lorax spoke for the trees and I speak for the kids.”
This year, the TRIPS Program will send two trips during Long Weekend– Environmental Justice to the Upper Peninsula and Friends with Disabilities to Iowa. Both trips will depart on Wednesday, October 5 and return on Sunday, October 9, 2016.
Environmental Justice (Watersmeet, MI)
2 leaders (Emily Owens & Tyler Butts), 4 participants
Participants on this trip will learn about environmental issues through experiences in the Ottawa National Forest in the Upper Peninsula. Students will work with conservationists to prevent the spread of non-native invasive species and complete trail maintenance while experiencing nature and reflecting on ways to create change.
Friends with Disabilities (Clinton, IA)
2 leaders (Jenna Decker & Adam Strube), 4 participants
This group will share life at the L’Arche community in Iowa. L’Arche’s mission is to make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities, to foster the development of communities that respond to members’ changing needs and to engage with local cultures while working toward a more human society. Our group will live with the residents and provide friendship through sharing life.
Please keep these groups in your thoughts and prayers!
March 24, 2016
Affordable Housing-Christmas In Action, Spartanburg, SC
As we come to the end of our trip, we can’t help but reflect on the great memories we all have made this week. It has been a wild ride down here in South Carolina. We were overwhelmed with the “southern hospitality” that everyone warned us about! We have more sweet treats than we know what to do with (which certainly is not something to complain about)!
For our last day of service with Christmas in Action, we worked at the warehouse with our favorite man in Spartanburg, Ken. The best way to describe Ken is the grandpa we all want to have. He treated us as his own children and even bought us 48 Snickers bars (and sent the rest home with us because we couldn’t eat all of those)! We helped Ken move bathtubs, showers, and garage doors today which he could not have done without us. It was awesome to see what 12 college kids can get moved around in such a short time. Ken mentioned to us that he was supposed to be out of the old warehouse last month, but he has not been given any volunteers to help with the large and heavy items. With our help these past few days, he nearly cleared out the old warehouse! Seeing the smile on Ken’s face after we cleaned, moved, and organized the new warehouse was absolutely priceless.
Our group has been so awesome and really engaged with the service, the town, and the people we encountered, which has made the trip so much more than it would have been without being focused on the reasons we are here. We had lunch at Glendale Shoals today, a really cool preserve with an old mill, a few goats and a river. It was a really great way to end our week in Spartanburg. We are all leaving Spartanburg feeling empowered to question the systems in our own cities and ready to bring what we learned here back home!
Gretchen and Margaret, Trip Leaders
Affordable Housing-Christmas In Action, Spartanburg, SC
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Today we continued our volunteering with Christmas in Action. In reflecting upon the day’s events, most members of the group considered today to be a success. We were able to productively help Ken and his efforts to organize the new CIA warehouse, and we got some pretty stylish hats out of the deal.
The work today was very paced. It felt as if every individual in the group was able to work in a cohesive manner with other individuals at a relaxed pace. This carefree environment was due in part to the personalities of the people we worked with today, but also due to the fact that we have become more of a “team” as time has gone on this week. To reflect upon this notion is encouraging – it leads me to think that we have successfully adapted to change and have worked through each other’s differences to work towards a common goal: helping Christmas in Action in the cause of relieving the poverty of Spartanburg. It’s an exciting thought to realize that people who are so different can work together cohesively after just a few days of service.
After a long day of service, the group piled into the vans and returned to the housing quarters. I was feeling drowsy so I laid down to take a quick nap. Most members of the group enjoyed the nice weather by playing Frisbee or exercising outdoors. Additionally, a few members of the local college campus community came around to visit while people were congregated outside. Classic Southern hospitality.
Later in the evening, we shared a pleasant chili dinner with a few members of a local prayer group at a Spartanburg area parish. The cornbread, in particular, was quite good. We thanked the prayer group for their good company and good food, and received a chocolate cake to-go in return.
In addition to the encouraging events over the course of the day, I am thrilled that we had the opportunity to work with Ken and Bill today. The combination of both of their relaxed personalities made for a light-hearted environment and enjoyable day.
– Daniel, aka Cool Sweater Boy and participant
P.S. Thank you Ken for the tweed hats and the excess of Snickers bars.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Affordable Housing-Christmas In Action, Spartanburg, South Carolina
Today (March 22) marked day three of our service in Spartanburg and we were very excited to know that we would be heading back to the home of Miss Faye so that we could finish her ramp. Our intentions was to finish the ramp before lunch and then, continue our work at the warehouse. After starting our work for the day, we quickly realized that finishing the ramp was going to take longer than we thought. We ran into some frustrations as we had to deal with some difficult tree roots that were hindering progress but with a lot of swinging the pickaxe, sawing, and lots of encouragement, we were finally able to conquer the tree roots and continue our progress. It was a stressful situation but with the guidance of our new fearless leader, Bill, everyone was able to stay calm. Frustrations were also distracted by the two boxes worth of donuts that Faye brought for us. It was incredible how someone in need that we were there to help wanted to do something so generous for us.
Our morning stayed calm until we realized that we were behind and and would not be able to finish the ramp before we were supposed to leave. After a quick phone call to Ken, the warehouse manager, we were told that we could stay so we could finish the ramp. We were so thankful and excited and with newfound energy, we all pulled together to finish. After a long day of hard work, laughter, and donuts, we finally finished! It was an incredible feeling for all of us to see our finished product and to see Faye be able to exit her house with no problem!
After service we were supposed to eat dinner with the president of Spartanburg Methodist College, but due to some confusion we had to make other arrangements. Thankfully we were meet with more hospitality and we found a hot, delicious meal ready for us to eat after a long day. After dinner, we enjoyed milkshakes and fries and a walk through downtown Spartanburg which was a great way to not only unwind from the long day, but to also get the chance to see life in a different place.
We had a pretty incredible day where we made memories that we will remember for years to come. Who would have thought that twelve people could finish a project like a ramp in two and a half days? Surely not us, and yet we did. Teamwork is pretty great.