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Women Who Mean Business: Leigh Rachal

Posted at 2:52 PM, Nov 18, 2020

Leigh Rachal is the Executive Director of the Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness and Housing (ARCH) and the co-chair of the Acadiana Housing Alliance. She believes passionately that housing is a basic human need and that everyone should have access to safe, decent, and affordable housing. In her role at ARCH, Leigh leads a coalition of community stakeholders working to end homelessness and housing instability in Acadiana, and is responsible for the monitoring and allocating of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homeless assistance programs funds.

A Lafayette native, Leigh graduated with her undergraduate from UL Lafayette, and moved to Virginia to obtain a master’s degree in Christian Education from Union Presbyterian Seminary. While there, she worked as a Christian educator at Arlington Presbyterian Church. Returning to Acadiana in 2005 - just in time for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - Leigh cofounded Communities Unities in Prayer and Service (CUPS) in the aftermath, a nonprofit designed to fill gaps in service in Acadiana. With the support of so many, CUPS was able to offer furniture, housewares, and financial assistance through the CUPS “Compassion Fund.” Those dollars provided support to those who needed assistance in areas not covered by local agencies. The CUPS Gift Basket Ministry was also able to provide a thousand holiday baskets to many who would not be able to otherwise afford them.

Over the past fifteen years, Leigh has worked for a number of local nonprofits, including 232-HELP/211, Catholic Services, The Extra Mile, and Volunteers of America. While at Catholic Services (now Catholic Charities of Acadiana), Leigh served as the Director of St. Joseph Diner and Stella Maris Hygiene Center. During her time at the diner, Leigh was able to oversee the expansion of services to include breakfast as well as lunch. Leigh was the recipient of Our Lady of Lourdes’ Franciscan Spirit Award in 2011, and was featured in 2007 by LifeStyle as A Woman Making a Difference.

Leigh is married, with two small children, two dogs, a cat, and thirty-five bookshelves overflowing with books. She also serves as the lay pastor for First Presbyterian of Abbeville. She is deeply committed to enhancing the quality of life for everyone in Acadiana, and stubbornly optimistic that homelessness can be prevented and eliminated, even during a global pandemic.