The year 2013 will be an exciting year for L’Arche Winnipeg, as it marks the 40th anniversary for the organization that "provides homes with a family-like setting for individuals with developmental disabilities."
Out of the six homes L’Arche operates in Winnipeg, four are located within Transcona.
L’Arche’s mission is to make known the gifts of people with developmental disabilities as well as to encourage their growth and wellbeing within their respective communities.
One such believer is administrative assistant and newsletter editor Hubert Pantel. He has actively been involved with L’Arche Winnipeg in one way or another since its inception in 1973.
"Forty years ago I was editor of the French weekly newspaper La Liberte," Pantel said.
"I did a big story on the opening of L’Arche in Transcona and I got to know the people and became very interested in getting involved. I started to hang around as a friend and then as volunteer and now I’m here."
While the number of family-like community houses have increased over the years, this past year saw the opening of L’Arche Tova Café at 119 Regent Ave. West. It was a huge step forward "to help combat the isolation and discrimination that often surrounds those with a disability."
"We wanted a place where the general public can go and interact with people who have a developmental disability," Pantel said.
"We want the community to get to know them and get to know their gifts. They’re people who get to do things everyone else gets to do. They have a normal life. They get to work, go out and have friends… sharing life with them is wonderful. It’s been good."
L’Arche Winnipeg and the organization as a whole has always been about the importance of relationships and making our society a better place to live.
"It’s about relationships. People with disabilities have so much to teach us about being honest and being real," Pantel said.
"I’ve always appreciated that. It’s refreshing. They are who they are and they are loved that way."
To commemorate its 40th anniversary, L’Arche Winnipeg will numerous events throughout the year.
It is the charity of choice for a Sub Zero Cruise event sponsored by Cruisin’ The Peg that will be held on Saturday, Jan. 26 at Canada Inns Transcona.
The 9th Annual Walk With L’Arche will take place on Sunday, May 5 at Oxford Heights Community Club.
To sponsor, participate or volunteer contact Diane Truderung at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 204-391-0300, ext. 1.
For more info on L’Arche Winnipeg visit www.larchewinnipeg.org
Adam Petrash is a community correspondent for Transcona. He can be contacted at email@example.com.