hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


February 1, 2012

Poor Tom's Almanac: How sweet home at Irenicon

Home is where the heart is, or so the saying goes. For us, it's a comfort zone — a place to hang our hats and coats, settle into a cozy atmosphere of peace and tranquility, and bring us a sense of gratitude when you consider the alternative.

Such a settlement is L'Arche Irenicon, a home for developmentally disabled adults who otherwise might be institutionalized or worse yet, homeless. Internationally, L'Arche is in more than 135 communities.

In Haverhill, nestled within a neighborhood setting, are four of these homes. I could easily call them comfort zones or as the logo reads: "Homes of Hope."

It is where residents or core members come for a sense of security, growth, purpose and well-being. You would never know it by their quiet presence, but Irenicon's longevity in this city is approaching three decades.

Just for the sake of curiosity, I attended an open house at the Nazorean Home in Bradford and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. I did not expect every city and state politician worth his salt to be there. I doubt it was the coffee and doughnuts that attracted them.

Perhaps they shared a similar intuition as I. Curiosity, yes, but in reality, a chance to view a highly successful operation that gives group homes such as these a place in the sun with a rainbow overhead.

I was there for another reason. To visit a young woman whom I've known practically since birth. Her name is Rose Rurak and she's a bundle of joy. Her smile could easily radiate a room.

As a Gazette photographer, I noticed she always seemed to find my lens, whether it was at Girls Incorporated, the Haverhill YMCA, our local schools or simply mixing it up with others. Rose had a perfect place at this meeting right next to her mom, Kathy.

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