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Who We Are

"L'Arche is not a service institution or a group home. It is a community that exists to reveal God's love. Our people are given to the world to tell others about peace and forgiveness and celebration, to make them aware that in the midst of their brokenness, there is joy; in the midst of their wounded nature, there is healing."
—Henri J.M. Nouwen

The Chef and Assistant

L'Arche Mission

Make known the gifts of people with developmental disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships. To foster an environment in community that responds to the changing needs of our members, while being faithful to the core values of our founding story. To engage in our diverse cultures, working together toward a more human society.


Sister Marjorie Wisor

The first L’Arche home was opened in 1964 in the village of Trosly, France in response to the call to bring people with intellectual disabilities out of the degrading conditions of institutions.  No longer were people with disabilities seen as something shameful that needed to be quarantined, but as full human beings inherently deserving of respect.  That first L’Arche home in its simple beginning became the model for today’s federation of over 150 L’Arche communities in 38 countries worldwide.

In 1968, Sister Marjorie Wisor of the Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton, IA, was studying French in Paris, and made a visit to the L’Arche community in Trosly.  According to Sister Marjorie her visit “….left a great impression on me as I felt layers of me being stripped away as those with disabilities met me person-to-person. There were no barriers. Our 'persons' met at the deepest level."

In 1972, Sister Marjorie and Father Mottet of Davenport Catholic Social Services discussed the effects of the Scott County Home closing, and consideration was given to opening a L’Arche home in Davenport. When a L'Arche home in Davenport did not emerge, Chet Swanson, Skyline's director, suggested opening a L'Arche home in Clinton.  The First Presbyterian Church of Clinton donated a house and on June 6, 1974, Gerry Potter became the first community member welcomed by L’Arche Clinton.

Though founded as a L’Arche community, L’Arche Clinton was initially called The Arch, symbolizing a bridge between two worlds.  Sister Marjorie Wisor served as the first Community Leader from 1974 to 1986.  According to Sister Marjorie, “God called this community into existence.  I just happened to be the person here to lead it.”

Today L'Arche Clinton serves up to 14 core members (persons with intellectual disabilities) in our three homes, as well as core members living independently in their own apartments.  The community employs approximately 30 people, including the assistants who share life with and provide direct support to our core members, our administrative staff, and our board of directors and other regular volunteers.    

Core members at L'Arche Clinton are the heart of our L'Arche community just as they are in L’Arche communities worldwide.  Our core members are busy with days spent at jobs or other day programs in the Clinton area.  Our community gathers monthly for birthday parties and anniversary celebrations. We participate in regional and national L'Arche gatherings.  Many core members have taken vacations to the hot spots around the nation. We enjoy our preparation and participation in regional and state Special Olympics, with core members always hoping to bring back the gold, but to be brave in the attempt if they receive anything less.

Frequently Asked Questions


What does L'Arche mean?
"L'Arche" means "the ark" in French (because L'Arche began in France.) The name refers to Noah's Ark and the diversity of its passengers.

Who comes to work or volunteer in L'Arche?
People are drawn to L'Arche for a variety of reasons:

Whatever their motivations, once a person comes to L'Arche, his/her life is touched in ways they never imagined.

How can my relative with a disability come to L'Arche?
L'Arche Clinton invites persons with developmental disabilities and their families to learn more about our community. We have referral forms that can be completed to help us learn more about you. Making one's home in L'Arche comes about through much dialogue and exploration, rather than through a waiting list. If you are interested, contact Devin Land at 563-243-9035.

How is religion/spirituality lived out at L'Arche Clinton?
All Smiles
All L'Arche communities are communities of faith, rooted in prayer and trust In God. Each community member is encouraged to discover and deepen his/her spiritual life and live it according to his/her particular faith or tradition. Those who have no religious affiliation are also welcomed and respected in their freedom of conscience. The spirituality of L'Arche Clinton is lived out in the small daily acts of love and fidelity, in times of prayer in the homes, and in community celebrations.

Does one need special training to work in L'Arche?
Some people that come to work at L'Arche have experience working with people with disabilities, but most don't. The first requirement is that a person has the desire to share life together in a community setting. It is also important that one is able to perform the duties outlined in the appropriate role description. Much of a person's first weeks in the community is devoted to hands on training.

How is L'Arche Clinton funded?
The majority of our funding comes from the State with additional support coming from individuals, churches and businesses. We hold fundraisers, newsletters and do quarterly appeals.