Throughout the evening, we focused on our connection with the 145 L'Arche communities across the globe in celebration of 50 years of announcing and engaging the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities. Chef Shannon Poynter (who is core member Erin Wheeler's sister) started us off at the soiree with her delicious international hors d'oeuvres. The wine, generously donated by Cynthia Chrystal, was flowing, as was the Droptop beer donated by Widmer Brothers Brewing. Many bidding wars ensued over the silent auction items--especially the weekend at the coast and some of the wine packages.
Joan Mahler, Executive Director of L'Arche USA and a founding member of our Portland community, spoke about how our celebration linked us with the Jubilee events in L'Arche communities across the world. All of us together are celebrating Jean Vanier's radical act 50 years ago in France to invite two institutionalized men with intellectual disabilities to live with him.
We watched a beautiful film from L'Arche Kenya about the extraordinary joy of Musa (you can watch it here), and then L'Arche Portland volunteer Faythe Aiken spoke about the vulnerability of L'Arche. She asked, from that place of vulnerability, for attendees to give generously--which they did! From the paddle raise, along with ticket sales, donations from those who could not attend, and the silent auction, donors exceeded the $30,000 challenge match made by Howard Hedinger and the Hedinger Family Foundation. Generosity was overflowing!
The concert was a beautiful celebration of 50 years of L'Arche worldwide, complete with photos of and artwork from communities all over the world, given to us as symbols of friendship. It was also an expression of the love and acceptance that flow so freely in L'Arche--here in Portland, and in the 35 countries where L'Arche exists. Thank you for being a part of L'Arche and our mission.
The event could not have happened without enormous support from so many people. I am filled with gratitude to all of you who came together to create this incredible evening. For those of you who could not join us, thank you for the support you offered in spirit and be sure to mark your calendars for next year's event, on Saturday, October 17, 2015!
Andrew J Noethe
Executive Director | Community Leader