Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monkey Attendants - A Possible Improvement

Marlborough Enterprise Fun RSS

monkey1 Inside his Phelps Street living room, Jim Mosso tries to reason with an uncooperative 20-year-old.

When he asks her to pick up a dropped remote, she appears to ignore him. She also stays put on the couch when he asks her to fetch water from the refrigerator. But unexpectedly, she breaks into a heart-melting smile and plants a kiss on top of Mosso's head.

The 20-year-old, named Gizzy, is a Capuchin monkey, an animal noted for its intelligence and helpful spirit. Mosso's job is to get her ready for a higher calling: helping people with disabilities handle everyday tasks.

Mosso is a volunteer foster parent with the Boston-based nonprofit Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled. For the past five years, he has been feeding and diapering Gizzy, taking her to the veterinarian, and teaching her to fetch water, make popcorn, pick up dropped items and do other helpful things around the house.

Like raising a child, the job has its rewards and frustrations, but Mosso is committed to the cause.
"When I heard about Helping Hands, I instantly knew I wanted to help train one of these guys," said Mosso as Gizzy snuggled in his lap. "I checked into it and I was amazed at what these monkeys were doing for people who are disabled."

Helping Hands' mission has been to provide assistance to people with the greatest needs: people who have become quadriplegic (paralyzed from the neck down) as a result of an accident, injury, or disease. The organization also sponsors events that teach others how to prevent spinal cord injuries.


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