Life’s Path is Rarely Straight

It took Jennylyn six years, but she made it to L'Arche.

When Jennylyn Tumanda laughs, her energy fills the room. Her interest in being herself, sharing her gifts, and doing what she can to help others makes her a great fit as a L’Arche Assistant. But her path to L’Arche wasn’t a straight one.

From Nursing to Zumba

Jennylyn graduated from nursing in the Phillipines. She had planned to find a job in her field when she finished school, but nursing jobs were hard to find where she lived, and she soon became a pharmaceutical representative so she could earn a living and stay in the medical field.

In her spare time, Jennylyn volunteered at the hospital. “I love to cook, and I love to dance; so I would cook meals at home, take them to the hospital and serve them, and then I also offered Zumba classes!” she says with a big laugh. “I enjoy being able to share and support people and have fun.”

A Pleasant and Persistent Friend

At the time, Lawrence – one of Jennylyn’s friends from nursing school – was working as an Assistant at L’Arche Sydney in Australia. Knowing Jennylyn’s personality and her passion for supporting others, he suggested that she would be a good fit for L’Arche. She thanked him but said no thanks, she didn’t think L’Arche was for her.

“That was 2015,” says Jennylyn, “and Lawrence knew I would be a good fit, so he never gave up kindly suggesting it to me.”

A Life of Change

Jennylyn’s life was changing. She settled into a home and she had a daughter. She knew she wanted to explore the world, but how was it possible? That’s when she started to think about L’Arche and when her mother – one of her biggest supporters – agreed to move into Jennylyn’s place and live with her granddaughter.

“My mother is amazing,” says Jennylyn. “She said to me, ‘I support you and as long as I live, I’m here for you.’ I talk to my family every day to make sure they are well, and to let them know how I am doing. I miss them, they’re very important to me.”

In February 2021 Jennylyn made the move to a community in L’Arche Ireland as a Support Worker. And in February 2023 she joined L’Arche Comox Valley as a live-in Assistant. Jennylyn now works and lives with other Assistants and four people with intellectual disabilities and mobility issues who need ongoing care at Jubilee House. “We’re like a family,” she explains with a smile. “We have our happy, fun times and we have our difficult times. We’re all good to each other and we support each other, and sometimes each one of us needs a break from the other.”

Would You Enjoy Being an Assistant at L’Arche?

If you ask Jennylyn what she likes about L’Arche, her face lights up. “I’m sharing my talents without judgment so I can give more of myself. If I want to dance, I can dance, and others can do what they love as well without fear.”

And what would she tell someone thinking of being a L’Arche Assistant? She thoughtfully says, “You must be prepared to learn a lot about yourself and other people. Think about what your gifts are and what you have to share. You must care for others and yourself.”

Jennylyn plans one day to return to her family and further her studies to become a psychiatric nurse. And if you know Jennylyn, you know she’ll make an incredible nurse.

If you are interested in becoming an assistant, visit L’Arche Canada




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