Editor’s note: For this and the next three issues, we will be following L’Arche Chicago’s core members to work as part of a series called Core Members in the Workplace. Many of us interact with the core members in their home, but as we know, our meaning derives not only from our relationships but also from our accomplishments and contributions in the community. In the case of the core members, we will find that their accomplishments and contributions are rooted in and expressed through relationship. ~Lindsay Perry
Spring 2008 In this issue... Core Members in the Workplace ....................... 1 L’Arche Spirituality .......... 2 Community News .......... 2 Feature Story ................... 3
Core Members in the Workplace: Chris By Marita Hernandez
Four days a week, Core Member Chris treks to work where he is surrounded by grand vistas of majestic rock walls and snowy mountain peaks, rolling emerald hills and a radiant salmontinted sunset. The spectacular murals, the work of local artists, envelop three rooms crowded with the gleaming chrome and steel exercise equipment that Chris in perpetual motion, damp rag in hand helps to keep looking pristine at the Tennis and Fitness Center of Oak Park. “I love, love, love it,” said Chris of his job, repeating his words for emphasis, as he’s apt to do. “It’s like you're outdoors… I love that I get to move around.” When a woman passerby in gym clothes greeted him and asked, “How are you doing Chris?” he responded with a smile, “Just so, so wonderful!” It’s Chris’ upbeat, gentle disposition, as well as his dedication to his job, that has won him kudos among co-workers,
center visitors and its manager, Steve Berggren, whom Chris unabashedly describes as “a very excellent boss” who “smiles a whole, whole lot.”
“I love, love, love it.” A man of sensitivity and imagination, Berggren hired Chris, 29, at minimumwage last August, though Oak-Leyden Developmental Services, to help with maintenance work at the facility
Director’s Desk ................ 4 Calendar .......................... 4
located on Lake Street, at Ridgeland Avenue. Always looking to enrich the experience of center visitors, Berggren has relied not only on the visual beauty of the art he’s commissioned, but also on the beauty of the inner landscape of workers such as Chris. Like his mother who managed the privately-owned center before him, Berggren makes a practice of hiring special needs workers, as “a way of giving back to the community.” But it's definitely a two-way transaction, said the businessman and immediate past president of the Oak Park Chamber of Commerce: “Chris brings a smile to my face whenever I see him… He’s a sweetheart.” For Chris, the job has added purpose and meaning. “I would be bored” without it, he said. He likes the interaction with center customers and co-workers that the job allows. And the money comes in handy, too. It allows him to indulge his passion for classic cars through a growing collection of “car books.” And, he said, “It makes me feel good.”
L’Arche Spirituality In the November 2007 newsletter we started with the first of a two-part piece on L’Arche as a place for transformation. Here in the second part, Joan Eades continues with a somber reminder of the reality of daily living in L’Arche. This, however, need not be a deterrent to the transformation that can happen not only for Core Members but also for Assistants. The full article can be found online at: http://www.larcheusa.org/newsletters/Ne wsletter1206.pdf. ~Spencer Foon
L’Arche: A Place of Transformation By Joan Eads
Of course every Core Member that comes to L’Arche is not filled with love. We have also experienced anger, pain and violence so intense that many Assistants did not know if they could continue to live with someone so angry, so violent. But here is perhaps where the mystery truly is solved. Through patience, professional help, strong boundaries and unconditional love, the transformation happens. It may take years, but when a human being truly feels loved, accepted and safe, they begin to internalize these emotions and the
anger and violence diminish. The Assistants who witness such a transformation are transformed themselves. The simple but life-giving lesson is that we must first look at our own woundedness, our own brokenness, embrace it and love ourselves before we can embrace and love others. We cannot however do this alone; we need each other, and we need community. In a sense we need others to love us unconditionally, so we can learn to love ourselves. Is it any wonder then why people choose to live in such an environment, in an organizational culture, long term, such as L’Arche?
Community News Congratulations to Jean who became a professional artist with the Arts of Life Studio Community in January. She celebrated her first art show on Saturday February 9th at the Mercury Cafe. Jean showcased a piece entitled “The Ark.” L’Arche Chicago is proud to be her first patron. Jean also received an award for her work. Also in January, L’Arche Jean recently celebrated her first art show at the Mercury Chicago welcomed a second Café, where she received an award for her work. cat, Mama. Good luck on building a Concordia University for hosting a friendship with existing feline diva, well attended and much appreciated Dharma. Valentine’s Day Luncheon fundraiser Congratulations to Christianne on for L’Arche Chicago. becoming a Minister of the Word and Thank you to Kat Buciantinni and her to Chris for becoming an altar server friends at Arupe House and beyond at St. Catherine/St. Lucy Parish. for planning and hosting the Stache Congratulations to Elbert, who Bash fundraising party, bringing survived his stint on jury duty. together some of the craziest and most Thank you to Mardy and Wally Bloch creative moustache aficionados. for planning and organizing, and to
Keith (L’Arche Clinton) and Chris, excited to meet the likely driver of a Crown Victoria.
Jean, Aassistant Steve Nazaran, and Elbert at the Arts of Life art show at the Mercury Café. “We’re proud of her,” Elbert said. “She’s got talent.”
Southern Fun: Sun, Shorts and .... Alligators? By Mark Stoltenberg From relay races to ocean dips, and from alligator encounters to 30+ hours in a car of seven people, L’Arche Chicago’s trip down south to participate in L’Arche Mobile’s First Light Marathon was full of excitement and adventure. Though the stated reason for the trip was participating in the marathon, the main motivator was the opportunity to “see other L’Arche communities and also have some fun as a community,” said Assistant Steve Nazaran. In as few as 10 days, the crew was able to make it from Illinois to Tennessee to Alabama, on to Florida and back home.
The community’s first destination was the base of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN, where Assistant Jeremy McLellan attended college. Everyone enjoyed seeing where Jeremy spent his past four years. The core members especially enjoyed a pancake breakfast they attended at the home of one of Jeremy’s former professors—it served as a great chance to carboload for the upcoming race! The big event took place the next day, on “a perfect morning for running,” according to Steve.
Rebekah Flores, Elbert, Jeremy McLellan, Christianne, and wildlife at Saint Augustine’s Alligator Farm.
Chris, Steve, and Jeremy completed a five-mile leg of the marathon on a relay team with members of other L’Arche communities, while Assistant Rebekah Flores and the other Chicago core members participated in a 1.2-mile “Fun Run.” The annual First Light Marathon, a fundraiser to support L’Arche Mobile, was a great success, raising in the neighborhood of $25,000, according to L’Arche Mobile Director Marty O’Malley.
The last stop was Florida, where on an alligator farm the group discovered that Rebekah is at ease with baby reptiles, while Jean likes them as long as they are kept in their pens. The trip ended with a serene dip in the ocean for Steve and Jean before packing up for the long drive home. As Chicago’s winter weather relentlessly presses on, these warm, southern memories seem to be helping to keep L’Arche Chicago laughing, living and loving as vibrantly as ever.
Chris, Steve Nazaran, and Jeremy McLellan completed a five-mile leg of the First Light Marathon on a relay team. Here they celebrate post-marathon with their relay teammates from L’Arche Heartland, Clinton, and Jacksonville.
Director’s Desk When I wear my grantwriting hat, one of my biggest challenges is telling the foundations of what makes L’Arche Chicago L’Arche Chicago. My first recourse is to our Identity Statement, which we share with the whole Federation: “We are people with and without developmental disabilities sharing life in communities belonging to an international Federation. Mutual relationships and trust in God are at the heart of our journey together. We celebrate the unique value of every person and recognize our need of one another.” “Sharing life” is not supporting or helping or providing service—although it may involve any or all of these things.
It is more than just spending time —even “quality” time—together. Sharing life is more what Paul meant when he said: “If one part (of the body of Christ) suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored every part rejoices with it.” (1 Cor 12:26). We share life in community, which begins with the four core members and three assistants who live at 1049 S. Austin Blvd. but extends far beyond to the families of core members and assistants, board members, community friends and supporters, sister communities in the Central Region and USA Zone and eventually, to the International Federation of L’Arche with its 42 country reach.
“Mutual relationships” are some of L’Arche Chicago’s most precious and challenging gifts. Our North American culture promotes self-sufficiency as a virtue and lauds charity. These things are good. But if I am always doing the giving, then in truth, I am being quite selfish and arrogant. Because, in effect, I am saying to the other: “You have nothing that I would want to receive,” and we deny the other the joy of giving. True mutual relationships, because they are very hard, go handin-heart with trust in God. True mutuality calls for both people to be vulnerable.
May 8 Community Night
Trust in God gives us the courage to be vulnerable with each other.
Calendar March 13 Community Night
1049 S. Austin Blvd.
April 5 Fund-raising Party 8-10 a.m.
June 12 Community Night
Chico's at River Forest
1049 S. Austin Blvd.
1049 S. Austin Blvd.
Community Night 7-9 p.m. 1049 S. Austin Blvd.
Anniversary Party details to be announced
Our Identity We are people with and without developmental disabilities sharing life in communities of faith. Mutual relationships and trust in God are at the heart of our life together. We seek to build a world that recognizes the unique value of every person and our need for one another.
For more information contact:
Alexandra Conroy 1049 S. Austin Blvd. Chicago, IL 600644
Office: 708.863.1273 www.larchechicago.org firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: Lindsay Perry email@example.com Layout & Design: Gen Connor firstname.lastname@example.org
“True mutuality calls for both people to be vulnerable.”
To the community within and without 1049 S. Austin, our life-sharing, our mutual relationships and our trust in God manifest in very concrete ways when we celebrate. And we celebrate everything we can. Holy Days, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, new skills, new friends—these are not so much occasions to give gifts (although we do that too) as to name the gifts we find and treasure in each other. Like the eye and the hand, the head and the feet, each of us needs each of the others. The only way we can live the immense challenge of being L’Arche Chicago is to incorporate core members, assistants, board members, volunteers, students, friends, donors and even administrators. ~Alex Conroy
Spring 2008 Two By Two Newsletter