I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, per se – perhaps you can relate – but I can’t resist reflecting back on the previous year.
It’s an important opportunity to look in the mirror and hold space for all that 2023 carried – the growth, challenges, pain and celebrations. Reflective questions can open space for gratitude and help inform the goals and direction for 2024. These include, “What are we proud of or celebrating? What was tough? What did we learn? What ought we let go of?”
And what a year it was, 2023. It was a year marked by change and growth. And you, our friends, carried us through with resounding support.
As a community, we navigated a change in leadership in the spring, and continue to build the strongest leadership team I’ve had the privilege of working with. We hosted another sold-out gala event, Building Community in the fall, and were nominated for an Outstanding Business Award by the Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce. We continue to build meaningful relationships in the community with key partners and stakeholders, such as UCT Jack Kidd Council #755.
In the summer, we launched our new program, L’Arche Connects, through which we support four new core members in apartments of their own. Our outreach program is launching imminently, and we continue to build on important community partnerships including Inclusion NB and Saint John Non Profit Housing.
At Creative Connections, we welcomed three new artists to our artistic day program, and embraced dozens of passersby and visitors to the studio. Professional artists joined us for 16 sessions, and our garden project took new shape thanks to countless hours planting, weeding, watering and sitting under the shade of a tree for a cool drink.
At McKim House, we welcomed four new assistants who bring new life and joy to daily life. A summer vacation house exchange with a L’Arche community in Quebec was a big highlight, along with countless birthday and anniversary celebrations.
And so, so much more. This is, of course, a highlight reel – we experienced our fair share of tough moments and lessons, too. Even still, we come out stronger, ready to face the opportunities and challenges that 2024 will present us.
I welcome this new year with open arms. There is so much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to.
None of this is possible without your continued friendship and support. From the bottom of our heart: thank you.
Rachel Vander Vennen
Community Leader & Executive Director