Caitlin came to L’Arche in September to join the Fund Development Team. Here are some of her observations since walking into our community.
I am consistently inspired by many of the blogs out there that are devoted to advocacy and inclusion of people who live with developmental disabilities. A few days ago I stumbled across this blog entry from Kendal Ciesemier, describing the life lessons she learned while working as a teacher’s assistant in a special needs classroom. This made me think of my time here at L’Arche.
As I have no background in fundraising, I knew when I started working here that I would have a lot to learn about raising money. What I didn’t anticipate was the lessons I would learn about life.
1. Appreciate the small things
Every day is truly a gift, and it is easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind of it all and forget the little things that make life beautiful. I cannot count the number of times I have come in to work feeling upset or frustrated about some little thing in my life only to get a hug from a core member, a bright smile and “good morning” or some other little reminder that I’m not alone in this world, and really, it isn’t so bad!
2. Cookies: the universal language of love
Our Emmaus day program bakes a lot of cookies. Whether they are for someone’s birthday, to hand out to people waiting in line for services at the food bank, for guests, or a big meeting, you can bet Emmaus will be baking cookies. Cookies are one way our day program expresses how much they care. I did not realize how much a single cookie could express until I came back from an exhausting meeting one afternoon to find a cookie sitting on my desk. It seems so simple, but that cookie showed me that someone was thinking of me. I honestly believe that if ever there were one single language that transcends cultural, age, or socioeconomic boundaries, cookies are that language.
3. A little laughter goes a long way
There is something to be said about the power of laughter. It truly has the power to transform – a bad day into good, a frown into a smile, a negative attitude a positive one. The people I work with are eager to laugh and joke at any opportunity. This is a constant reminder to find joy in anything life throws my way.
4. A smile really can light up a room
You’ve heard the phrase a million times, but have you seen it? I have. I have seen smiles that radiate and fill the entire room with light and joy. To witness this is truly indescribable.
5. You’re NEVER too busy
It is funny how often we brush off people because we’re too busy. It happens all the time. One of the first things I noticed when I began working at L’Arche was the fact that none of the core members were ever “too busy” to help someone out. They are never too busy for a smile, a joke, a “hello” or even to help you find something or answer a question.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work in such an incredible place. Honestly, you would have to walk into the building to understand, but there is just something about L’Arche. L’Arche has a feeling, a soul. There is something about it that permeates your being – grabs ahold of your heart and refuses to let go. Our theme for Lent has been “Come and See” and so I invite you to do just that. Come by and see us, experience that special something – you may even be lucky enough to get a cookie from Emmaus!
Contributed by Caitlin Toews, Fund Development Assistant at L’Arche Greater Vancouver