An assistant is the term given to the people that choose to share their lives with the community by living in one of the houses. The daily functioning of the houses in the community is dependent on the commitment of its assistants. No previous experience is necessary to become an assistant, but those interested should have an openness and willingness to learn and be changed by people with disabilities and community life.
The activities of an assistant vary greatly, and are largely dependent on the disabilities of those with whom they live. Typical activities might include:
- Sharing in the chores around the house.
- Accompanying those with disabilities to the doctor, to the store, or to another activity.
- Helping those with physical disabilities get dressed, bathe and eat.
- Working with their house leader and the team of assistants.
- Participating in and organizing community activities.
Assistants stay varying lengths of time, anywhere from a few months to a few years. New assistants normally spend three months living in the community where they experience the life, values and spirituality of L’Arche. This three months provides time for an assistant to make sure that L’Arche is somewhere that they can feel comfortable. After this time, assistants may decide to remain in the community for a year or more. Some assistants end up staying several years, others only a few months. Whatever the case, they can leave whenever they choose. (Some of our assistants enjoy living in L’Arche so much, they still haven’t left!)
Assistants are paid a monthly stipend and benefits, and receive training and support throughout their stay. Assistants get one day off a week, one weekend off per month, and for those who stay longer than one year, one ten day vacation and one month-long vacation per year.
L’Arche has a specific philosophy which has been outlined in the Charter of L’Arche. “The first aim of L’Arche”, says the Charter, “is to create communities inspired by the Beatitudes and the spirit of the Gospels”. The aspect of community means that we come basically to share our lives with others as brothers and sisters. Assistants in L’Arche are called to create relationships of friendship with people who have a developmental disability as well as with other assistants, and to give their time and energy to the creation of loving, secure, joyful homes.
If you are interested in becoming an assistant in L’Arche Saskatoon, please fill out the online application form at www.larche-work.ca. If you are interested in coming to Saskatoon in particular, you can indicate this preference in your application.