Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled

In-home service animals for people living with disabilities

aka Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers   |   Boston, MA   |  http://www.monkeyhelpers.org

Mission

Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers was founded in 1979 to raise and train capuchin monkeys to provide daily in-home assistance to people living with spinal cord injuries or other mobility impairments. We are the only organization in the world that has trained capuchin monkeys to be service animals. Helping Hands learned that these little animals delivered more than just a willing set of nimble hands to their recipients. The monkeys provided companionship, joy, and the renewed sense of purpose that comes from taking responsibility for the health and well-being of another creature. Our mission is to provide: outstanding, ongoing support for our current recipients and their monkey helpers; a safe, healthy, fulfilling environment for post-service monkeys for the rest of their lives.

Ruling year info

1983

Executive Director

Ms. Diane S. Nahabedian

Main address

541 Cambridge Street

Boston, MA 02134 USA

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Formerly known as

Helping Hands: Simian Aides for the Disabled, Inc.

EIN

13-3146988

NTEE code info

Services to Promote the Independence of Specific Populations (P80)

Animal Training, Behavior (D61)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Give people who live daily with physical disabilities a sense of independence and hope by providing them with the service of a monkey helper at no cost to them.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Support for Recipients with Disabilities

Imagine your life changing in an instant after an accident or a debilitating disease where you are left severely handicapped with a spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis. Small tasks you once took for granted are no longer possible for you to do alone. Picking up a dropped phone, turning a light switch off and on, turning a page in a book or magazine, and even scratching an itch all become monumental tasks that you have to rely on other people to help you do. Feelings of loss and frustration can become overwhelming.
Our service monkeys enhance the independence of 10 recipients with disabilities with the completion of repetitive, everyday activities. These little capuchins also provide immeasurable emotional benefit through the human-animal bond.

Helping Hands supports service monkeys and their human partner during their many years together through interactive mentoring and close supervision of the monkey's behavioral needs which may change as the monkey ages. We also pay for the

Population(s) Served
People with physical disabilities

As our service monkeys age, many return to our Monkey Living Center and foster homes. These monkeys have devoted their lives to helping people with disabilities and deserve a good quality of life. They need:

- To be kept healthy in a nurturing environment where they socialize with people or other monkeys

- Caretakers who understand animal behavior and can build a strong bond with the monkeys so that they feel connected and calm.

- Nutritious food specifically tailored to monkey needs and ongoing medical care and medicines to avoid stress, fear, and suffering.

-A safe environment with excellent air ventilation systems, play areas, and habitation areas where they can live comfortably.

Helping Hands has established excellent animal welfare standards to keep the monkeys healthy, safe, and comfortable. Our animal care staff are well trained and have worked for Helping Hands for many years, establishing a strong bond with the monkeys and providing a high level of care.

Population(s) Served

As an organization dedicated to working with those living with disabilities and bringing humans and animals together, we can look at our history with great pride and we will continue to take care of our monkeys as they live out the rest of their lives.

In addition, we are developing the organization to be an action tank where we create and implement a number of initiatives. These initiatives will allow us to continue to service the disability community by providing resources through the utilization of robotics, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) through a collaboration with robotic, AR, VR and AI research organizations, firms and service providers.

Population(s) Served
People with physical disabilities

Where we work

Awards

Best in America 2016

Independent Charities of America

Four Star Charity 2016

Guidestar

Affiliations & memberships

Independent Charities of America 1994

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We serve a growing community of people nationwide living with a wide range of physical disabilities including veterans and adult men and women ages 18 and over. The expanding number of people who can benefit from our service was underscored in a 2009 study initiated by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. 5.6 million Americans--that's 1 out of 50--live with some form of paralysis whether caused by disease, spinal cord injury, or neurological damage. Our goal: give people who live daily with physical disabilities a sense of independence and hope by providing them with the service of a monkey helper at no cost to them. Every year Helping Hands aims to create 6-8 new placements, while supporting 30-40 active placement teams, 50 Foster Families, and 50 monkeys in various stages of training. Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled is now 40 years old. The theory and practice of our mission--the training and placement of capuchin monkeys to be in-home assistants and companions to people with severe mobility limitations--has been demonstrated to have positive life-changing effects. The program is recognized nationally, is in a strong financial position, and is of proven value. Continuing to evolve is essential given the dynamics of the service animal market today and knowing how much has changed in our culture since our first placement.

In its early years, the focus of our work was on developing and implementing the training techniques that allow capuchin monkeys to provide assistance with daily tasks to their human partners, within the context of a relationship that is mutually rewarding and emotionally satisfying. More recently, the executive staff and board of directors has invested strategic time and effort in maturing the organization from its roots into a not-for-profit that meets today's high standards for accountability, structure, and performance. While the prior Strategic Plan was inwardly focused and aimed at establishing, improving, and maintaining excellent internal systems, our 2014-2018 Strategic Plan focuses on the continuation and expansion of the organization. 1. To increase and sustain the rate of successful placements with qualified candidates. 2. To ensure that Helping Hands monkeys have an excellent quality of life throughout their lifetimes. 3. To optimize the opportunities for and effectiveness of the Helping Hands training program. 4. To recruit, train, and fully utilize the talents of strong, sufficient, and committed groups of volunteer and professional staff leaders. 5. To move towards an appropriate, long-term facility that is sized and configured to meet the needs of all aspects of Helping Hands' mission and program. 6. To continue to strengthen Helpings Hands' long-term financial sustainability by developing a robust, broader base of philanthropic support.

We are the only organization of our kind in the world. One of the main reasons for our success is that the training and placement of Helping Hands service monkeys relies on an interface of professional disciplines that few other organizations are able to coordinate. These disciplines include primatology, psychology, and complex training techniques, as well as extensive knowledge and skill in rehabilitation medicine, occupational therapy, engineering, workstation modification, adaptive equipment design, and other services that address the needs of adults living with severe physical disabilities. In addition, it requires a great deal of time, patience, and funding to raise, train, and successfully place service monkeys with eligible recipients.

In the early research and development stage, program components were established—from determining which species of monkey was best suited to the kinds of tasks the human recipients would need, to working out training methods. Once these parameters were in place, monkey helpers were placed at a steady pace. A nationwide network of foster homes was established, where volunteer families raised monkeys under Helping Hands' supervision and prepared them for the transition to the training center and, ultimately, placement as a monkey helper. Knowledge of Helping Hands spread through the network of spinal cord injury care centers and specialty physicians, resulting in a growing list of potential recipients. During the past 38 years we've placed nearly 150 monkeys with people throughout the United States looking for in-home assistance. Our average placement lasts 7-10 years, with many of them extending beyond the 10-year mark.

Looking forward, our Board of Directors is now examining next steps for our retiring monkey population and researching ways we might share the knowledge we've accumulated over the years with other organizations. Our greatest priority will continue to be caring for the monkeys in our program and supporting our recipients across the country.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Social Media,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to identify actionable feedback,

Financials

Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled

Board of directors
as of 11/18/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Robert Sanders

Woodstock Corporation

Term: 2019 - 2022

Susan Keyes

Keyes North Atlantic, Inc.

Michele Cunneen

Animal Research Consulting LLC

Robert Sanders

Howland Capital Management

Khristine Carroll

AdvanSource Biomaterials Corporation

Dan Skehan

Keyes North Atlantic, Inc.,

Sarah Davis

Sarah Haven Davis, DMD

Judi Hindman

Monkey Business Farm, LLC

Daniel Steger

DGS/a Architecture

Lisa Brown

NNE Marketing

Robin Dorogusker

Hereva Consultants, Inc.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/11/2021,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data