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A Great Friend

Chavo and Gus are good friends. Chavo enjoys giving him hugs and likes to share the couch with him in the living room at Choices and Connections (CAC), the longest running program at Communitas Supportive Care Society. The fact that Gus is a gorilla doesn’t seem to matter to his friends. Neither does the fact that he’s a giant stuffy – in fact, that’s one of his most endearing qualities.

“He’s a wonderful listener and he’s very huggable,” says Claudette, who manages the program. “And as you can see, he’s great at cuddles.”

Some of the staff at Choices and Connections: Andrea, Irma,Claudette, Nicole, Astina, Manveer and, of course, Gus.

Claudette brought Gus to CAC from home after her grandchildren outgrew him. She and Nicole, another staff member, thought that the participants at CAC might benefit from a large pillow or something that would feel cozy and safe. Claudette remembered that she still had Gus, having been unable to part with him. Remembering how much her grandchildren loved him, she wondered if Gus would fill that need at CAC.

Claudette knew that there were some transitions coming to the close-knit group of people who participate in this day program. One participant was moving away and a staff member was also leaving. She wondered if Gus would be able to help with the emotions that would be felt through this difficult time. It turned out to be a very positive experience.

“On Gus’s first day here, Chavo sat him at the table at coffee time,” she remembers. “Gus fit in instantly.”

Many of the people in the program have taken to Gus, taking advantage of his listening ear. One participant, who has since moved away, would hold Gus and tell him his frustrations or disappointments.

“It was both sad and heartwarming to hear him share and to see how important this routine was for him,” Claudette says. “It actually helped him to be more relaxed during our morning devotional time.”

Chavo seems to respond to Gus in the same way. He joins Gus on the couch, wraps his arms around him, closes his eyes and breathes deeply. And Gus? Well, the smile on his face shows that he loves it just as much.

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