Frequently Asked Questions

What was the impetus for founding a L'Arche community in Fort Collins?
A small group of friends studying social justice in Fort Collins were moved by affection for the young, intellectually disabled daughter of a couple of members.

What characteristics are used to diagnose intellectual disability?
Intellectual disability, which originates before the age of 22, involves impairments of general mental abilities that impact adaptive functioning in three domains that determine how well an individual copes with everyday tasks:
  • The conceptual domain includes skills in language, math, reasoning, knowledge, and memory.
  • The social domain refers to empathy, social judgment, interpersonal communication skills, the ability to make and retain friendships, and similar capacities.
  • The practical domain centers on self-management in areas such as personal care, job responsibilities, money management, recreation, and organizing tasks.
What residential choices are available for those with intellectual disabilities?
There are a range of residential services offered by Program Approved Service Agencies (PASA's). Individuals may live in apartments, companion settings, host homes or staffed homes. However, there are no community living settings such as L'Arche in Colorado. For more information on PASA's and eligibility for residential and support services in Larimer County contact Foothills Gateway Inc. (970.226.2345)or go to the website.

Why do we need a L'Arche community?
Currently, Colorado does not have homes modeled on L'Arche communities where several unrelated people with and without disabilities live in family-like homes and share their lives together. This life sharing model offers profound physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits distinct from most other existing social service models of care.

How are L'Arche homes different from other care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities?
L'Arche homes operate under a non-profit community model that provides for shared life in households that are home to both the core members (people with intellectual disabilities) and those who share life with and support them (assistants). L'Arche homes share the following distinct characteristics:
  • People with disabilities, and those who assist them, live together in homes and apartments, sharing life, building community as responsible adults, and growing spiritually in community.
  • Everyone is believed to have the capacity to grow and to make a contribution to society, regardless of physical or intellectual limitations.
  • The important goals of achieving personal growth and maturing socially as an adult are understood to be nurtured most effectively within the context of a community.
  • Individuals are best integrated into society by going out into the broader community and by welcoming the world around them.
What are the religious/spiritual roots of L'Arche?
L'Arche is an international faith-based organization with more than 140 communities around the world. While L'Arche was founded in the Roman Catholic tradition, it is now an inter-religious body. Each community identifies its own faith roots. Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins has self-identified as an ecumenical Christian community. All L'Arche communities welcome people of any or no faith, and respect and support their spiritual lives within or outside of religious affiliation.

How many people with intellectual disabilities live in northern Colorado?
The census of people with intellectual disabilities in Larimer County (2013) found 4,638 males and 6,319 females between the ages of 5 and 75 and older.

What does Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins hope to accomplish?
Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins hopes to create a community for people with and without intellectual disabilities and eventually to establish two homes with three core members each by 2019.

How many people live in a L'Arche community?
There is no set number for a L'Arche community. Each community in a city may be comprised of from one to eight homes. Each home usually has three to five core members and three to five assistants. However, this varies according to each individual community.

What is the source of funding for Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins?
Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation funded through grants and private donations.

How much money is needed?
The amount of funds needed will depend on whether or not a home is purchased, specifically constructed for individuals with intellectual disabilities, or donated. Construction of a one-level home capable of housing 4 to 6 adults can be expected to cost between 0.5 to $1 million. We estimate the annual operational costs for one L'Arche home with three core members, three volunteer assistants, one full time executive/fund development director and one full time administrative/budget assistant to be around $200,000.

What does it mean that L'Arche Fort Collins is affiliated with L'Arche USA?
L'Arche Fort Collins has been guided from its beginnings (as Joyspring) in the steps leading to a stable and fruitful community. We are guided by the vision and mission of L'Arche and will be able to draw on former assistants and families associated with the L'Arche movement to support us. Mostly we benefit from the wisdom and guidance provided by L'Arche leaders. This includes guidance on board formation, recruitment of assistants and volunteers, and training support and retreats for core members, assistants and leaders.

What kind of help is needed to start/support a L'Arche community in Fort Collins?
Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins needs financial support and donations to make our vision a reality and to further the values and vision of L'Arche in society. We can also use the talents of volunteers working in areas such as publicity, public relations, marketing, acquiring land, construction, and fund raising or as a volunteer in one of the homes. Eventually, we will need assistants in homes and members of the Board of Directors.

Who can belong to Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins?
Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins is open to all who wish to work, support, live, or participate in activities with people with intellectual disabilities.

Who comes to work or volunteer at L'Arche?
Some people come to L'Arche because they are interested in the field of intellectual disability. They are drawn by L'Arche's vision, which focuses on the gifts and contributions to our society of those who have intellectual disabilities. Others come to L'Arche wanting an experience of life in community. The prospect of living together with people of differing intellectual capacity, social origin, religion and culture is attractive and the experience of building community with them is challenging. Also, some people find L'Arche a good environment for personal growth, while others come to L'Arche because of a social justice motivation, the spiritual dimension of L'Arche, or the experience of life in solidarity with people who are easily marginalized.

What is Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins doing right now?
Friends of L'Arche is now in the process of creating a community consisting of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Preparation for homes in the future includes monthly organizational meetings, presentations to other organizations, activities and celebrations with people with intellectual disabilities, visiting other facilities and L'Arche homes, and assessing economic feasibility and donor support. In July 2014 we received formal designation as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We have been working with L'Arche USA for several years to become a "Pre-Foundation" of L'Arche and be designated as "Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins."

How can my family member or friend apply to live in a Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins home?
Each L'Arche community has its own admissions procedure that is guided by L'Arche USA policies. Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins will develop its own application process. People with intellectual disabilities will be welcome to apply. Acceptance is a process of discernment on the part of the applicant and the L'Arche community.

What will it cost to live in a Friends of L'Arche home?
Friends of L'Arche Fort Collins expects to become a Program Approved Service Agency of the State of Colorado and will be financially structured as such.