An Inclusive Community Is Good For Everyone

L’Arche St. Louis is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Its annual “Breakfast with Friends.”

“We build small communities where people with and without disabilities learn from each other and discover the joy of being together,” Paula Kilcoyne stated as she described L’Arche. “Inclusive community is good for everyone”. Our particular strength is to recognize the value, dignity, and contributions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” 

Paula grew up in Glendale and is a Nerinx Hall graduate. She learned about L’Arche while she was attending Marquette University. “I decided to go visit the largest L’Arche organization in Toronto, Canada, and ended up staying there for 25 years.”

Paula moved back home to St. Louis in 2013. A year later her love for both St. Louis and the mission of L'Arche were unexpectedly brought together when she was offered the opportunity to serve as L’Arche’s Executive Director.

L’Arche St. Louis is based in Webster and Maplewood. It is one of 19 cities where the movement of L’Arche is thriving across the States. Founded in 1964 in France, L’Arche is now in 38 countries on six continents.

“We have residential homes with individualized support so that our fellow citizens with intellectual disabilities who have complex care needs can live full, meaningful lives.

Our homes are rooted within local neighborhoods. We just want to be seen like everyone else. Our members do their own cooking, cleaning, gardening, and take care of their own homes with support from a team of assistants”, said Paula. “At the same time, we invite anyone interested in learning about our mission and getting to know our members, to participate in our group activities and public celebrations.”

Paula noted that L’Arche has extensive and inclusive educational opportunities. “We’ve been invited to host our public events around the city. We also offer educational opportunities in schools. We focus on what it means to respect someone who is different from us and what it means to offer support in a caring way that retains the dignity of the person receiving support. L’Arche offers a model where students can have an immersive experience as an intern and even live in one of the L’Arche homes. Paula added, “That can be an amazing summer internship or gap year for a student.”

L’Arche St. Louis is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Its annual “Breakfast with Friends” is a focal point for L’Arche ongoing fundraising. This year’s event will feature both live and pre-recorded content happening throughout May. The full Breakfast with Friends program will premiere on YouTube on Thursday, May 27, at 7:30 am. For more information, visit https://www.larchestlouis.org/breakfast

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