New home helps tenants connect

L’Arche Comox Valley has opened its new outreach centre/residence near Courtenay Elementary, housing six developmentally disabled adults and a live-in support worker. The upstairs contains six suites and office space, while the ground floor contains a large activity space, kitchen, crafts studio, welcoming area and further office space.

The living arrangement has changed the lives of the six individuals who live at the site, says L’Arche CV executive director Christine Monier.

“They are semi-independent with some supports for shopping and banking,” she said. “They’re living in a safe, beautiful environment. Very functional. They can make connections and have meaningful lives…We want this centre to be a community hub for our neighbourhood.”

A fundraising campaign dubbed I Belong generated about $1.1 million towards construction — $290,000 from government and the rest from donors, mostly local.

“We are full of gratitude for the way which the whole Comox Valley has come together and help us raise the funds to build this project,” Monier said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the contribution of many, many individuals.”

Within L’Arche Canada, the centre is a first-of-its-kind model. Locally, the demand is such that another residence could be filled in a snap.

“We’re going to learn lots over the next number of years,” said Frank van Gisbergen, chair of the L’Arche Comox Valley board.

Friday drop-in coffee sessions are helping staff and residents to slowly make connections in the community.

“We have a saying at L’Arche: It’s not just about doing things for but doing things with,” Monier said.

A grand opening of the centre/residence will be held Sept. 12. It’s located at 1465 Grieve Ave.