Podcast: Haverhill’s L’Arche Boston North Opens Fifth Home; Gets Support from Longest Table

L’Arche Boston North Executive Director Jennifer Matthews, left, and Haverhill Bank President Thomas L. Mortimer, right, welcome residents and staff into a recently renovated two-story house. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill’s L’Arche Boston North recently opened its fifth “forever home” for those with intellectual disabilities, continuing to fulfill a mission it launched 40 years ago.

Executive Director Jennifer Matthews, a recent guest on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program, says the new additional home is the organization’s first in 20 years. It took two years to complete the project, from purchase to welcoming four residents.

The new home, a renovated two-story house, is one of the accomplishments that is supported by L’Arche Boston North’s annual “Longest Table” fundraiser downtown. Matthews notes Haverhill Bank, a presenting sponsor for the public culinary event, also helped make the new home possible.

“It’s right in their backyard of their main branch on Merrimack Street. Haverhill Bank has been incredibly supportive of L’Arche throughout the years. We’re very lucky, but in addition to Haverhill Bank, we have the support of so many organizations in this community and we get their sponsorship for The Longest Table and the people who contribute to L’Arche and for our mission all the time. It’s countless, it’s countless community partners and people. We are very fortunate for all the support we have in this Haverhill community,” she says.

Haverhill Bank President and CEO Thomas L. Mortimer said the bank and its staff are “Proud to be part of the development that created housing fitting for these residents and their tremendous staff.”

Tickets for this year’s Longest Table, sold out in less than 90 minutes.

Matthews says the dinner, started in 2019 on Wingate Street in downtown Haverhill as a community building gathering, has turned into a major awareness event about the effort to have people with intellectual disabilities live together with staff who assist them. In fact, Matthews says they still have an original member living with them from when they first came to town.

Matthews says people who were fortunate enough to get tickets after they went on sale had plenty of meal options. “We have, I think, over 15 restaurants that are doing the sit-down portion the meal, serving a three course meal. Then, we have other restaurants that are helping out with appetizers and desserts. It’s just really wonderful.”

The Longest Table will be held, once again, Thursday, Aug. 17, on the Rep. Brian S. Dempsey Boardwalk in downtown Haverhill where people, preparing the meals, will have access to the Northern Essex Community College Culinary Institute at Haverhill Heights

“That is such awesome space. If you’ve never been in there I would say try to get in there because it is state of the art. It is beautiful and it’s so welcoming. Last year, many of our restaurants got to prepare in that space for The Longest Table and they loved it. Denis Boucher and Northern Essex’ Lane Glenn, they’ve been so welcoming to L’Arche and really to all the restaurants who want to utilize that space,” she adds.

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