"Technology is a wonderful way of ensuring that we remain an intentional community, where we continue those mutual relationships or we are able to flourish--even in the midst of this," said Smith.
Smith said that other measures, such as new screening procedures and temperature checks for any guests to the homes, as well as changes to who is permitted to go grocery shopping and when, are to ensure the health of the core members and assistants, many of whom are considered to be medically vulnerable.
"People with intellectual disabilities are often the most impacted by this," said Smith. "And we have people in our community who are no longer at work. They are people with intellectual disabilities who are no longer receiving a paycheck and they are no longer engaged in, what is being meaningful and is meaningful for them."
Smith also raised concerns about the potential quality of medical care that the core members would receive if they were to fall ill as extra motivation to introduce additional safety steps. He noted several states have been accused of issuing disaster preparedness plans that, should the situation arise, could prioritize giving care to people without intellectual disabilities if there were a shortage of ventilators.
"I am particularly mindful of that, in light of some personal experiences in my own community here in DC, where we've had issues in the past in terms of communicating the dignity of someone with their medical provider or the medical system," said Smith.
Smith praised the "great work" of the assistants of L'Arche GWDC, as they have made "sacrifices in limiting what they are doing, to make sure that our homes are safe and healthy and protected."
An obstacle facing L'Arche GWDC is the cancelation of their fundraising breakfast, as well as the challenges they face in obtaining common household supplies, which typically sell out very quickly. Smith said the communities have a wish list where people could support them financially if they want to do so.
As the DC-area concludes its third week of coronavirus-related restrictions, Smith told CNA that he has been careful to work to maintain a strong sense of community and cooperation within the homes.
"One of the things that we practice every day at the L'Arche community is the reality of forgiveness and celebration are daily parts of our reality," he said.
"I've been sharing with the community that we need to be gentle with ourselves and gentle with others and that it's okay to be frustrated with the coronavirus, but we don't need to be frustrated with each other." He said his community has "really leaned in" to this mentality.
"We've been able to lean into each other, and ask each other for support, and ask each other for space and time," he added.
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Smith told CNA that he hopes the L'Arche community is able to be a sign of hope and community for not only each other, but also for other members of the greater DC area--particularly those who have been impacted in one way or another by the coronavirus.
"We are praying with you," said Smith. "We are thinking of ways we can support you. L'Arche wants to give, too; we as a community want to be supportive."