Mar. 6, 2019

Dr. Beal and gorillas

Aren't connections fun?  Dr. Beal of yesterday's 1879 seed experiment was from Rollin.  That's a wide-road-spot just west of here.  Skip to the 1990's and another experiment.  We were looking for ways to reduce the number of kids in institutions and foster care.  To do that, we needed to provide some of the functions of care in the community.  We began a program we called youth companions.  People, mostly college age, were hired and trained to work with the kids, both in their families and in foster care.  It was a very successful effort, and reduced institutional care to almost zero.  Recidivism and repeat offenses also dropped dramatically.  In a similar effort in Chicago, the workers became known as friendly gorillas.  When the staff and kids here heard that, it stuck.  We did not foresee the effects the program would have on the workers.  Many changed their career plans.  Some adopted kids.  And some got married.  The people who managed the gorillas became known as mother gorillas.  One of the mothers was my wife Barb.  And one of the gorillas that met his wife in the program was a descendant of Dr. Beal.  So, at one point my wife arranged marriages for gorillas!  One of the next Beal generation now is in a theater program with my grand daughter.  Aren't connections fun!