Steve and Marypat Hedberg generously hosted the gathering at their beautiful home in SW Portland, and guests were treated to delicious wines donated by Jerry and Sarah Bieze and a selection of hors d'ouevres.
Neahkahnie housemates Cindy Leonard and Regina Maimone helped greet guests and talked about life in community with Executive Director Andy Noethe, thanking Heart of L'Arche members for their commitment to supporting our model of shared living and relationship-building between people with and without intellectual disabilities. Paul Lipscomb, a founding member of L'Arche Portland and the Heart of L'Arche, got Cindy to recall the early days of life in community and stories of the various cats she’s loved and nurtured during her 30 years of life with L’Arche Portland.
Board members Frances Sexton and Tom Soma gave witness to how the L'Arche Portland community has enriched their own lives. Frances talked about the fun gatherings and retreats she has attended, the opportunity to be with people who value difference, and the ways she is supported and empowered to use her voice as an advocate for love, peace, and human rights. She enthusiastically thanked the HOL for helping to make all that possible. Tom spoke to the power of the L'Arche movement to shift perceptions of difference. He talked about L’Arche Portland’s current journey towards growth and noted Frances’ vision for what we can offer to the broader community, including a model for sharing life together as well as advocacy, dialogue, and relationship-building to increase inclusion and opportunity in the workplace, in worship/spiritual formation, and in every facet of society. This vision, said Tom, calls the rest of the Board (and our community as a whole) to step up and dream big.
With these words as inspiration, HOL members broke into small groups to share what draws them to L'Arche and their individual dreams for how L’Arche might grow and increase our impact in the wider Portland community. These conversations featured intimate moments and hopeful dreams as shared by friends, parents, self-advocates, colleagues, philanthropists, and justice-seekers.
The evening officially ended with a serenade of HOL members, singing the Beautiful song which traditionally honors community members celebrating their L'Arche anniversaries:
Heart of L’Arche, you are beautiful.
Heart of L’Arche, you are strong!
Wonderful to be with, carry us along,
Heart of L’Arche, you’re a loving song.
We would love to welcome you into the Heart of L'Arche Society. Please consider joining this important group of supporters who make a three-year pledge to stand with L’Arche Portland in our commitment to build relationships between people with and without intellectual disabilities. For more information, please contact Tamara at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 503-251-6901.