Chato Has Found True Belonging in Family
Chato Malone’s life didn’t start out very well. Sadly, he was a victim of parental abuse—his parents allegedly withheld food from him, and his father was reportedly a practicing alcoholic who was prone to fits of rage. Eventually, citing the need to protect Chato, the state removed him from his home to place him in the care of his grandmother.
But then his father also moved into his grandmother’s home. “I don’t know what happened to Chato’s mother, but the state then removed him from his grandmother’s home as well once his father moved in,” said Steve Golly, who, with his wife Cammy, has been Chato’s host home provider for more than a year. “It must have been awful for him, because no one in his family is allowed to contact him, nor is he allowed to contact his family.”
Living in a series of group homes beforehand, Chato met Autumn Reisetter, a former Mosaic staff member, when he was seven years old. At 10, he met Autumn’s husband Keith. Truly caring about him, the couple advocated to become Chato’s guardians versus being a ward of the state, which he was at the time.
“We knew we could do a much better job of mentoring and coaching him to grow—to ensure he would be a priority,” said Keith.
As Chato became more independent, he began to express the desire to move to Mosaic’s most popular residential supports service, called Mosaic at HomeⓇ: The person served shares a home with a Mosaic host home provider who helps the person become an active member of the household and his or her community. Mosaic at Home is a highly personalized service, because great care is taken to match the individual to the provider.
In the meantime, Steve and Cammy were already Mosaic at Home providers for Ronald Sonnenburg. “We love Ron being with us so much, we decided to build a house to accommodate serving another person,” said Steve. “The previous place was a two-bedroom home; this new one is four and has plenty of space for everyone.”
Since moving in, one of the things the Gollys have helped Chato with is getting healthier and losing weight. “Chato had a heart attack when he was only 16 from improper eating and no exercise,” remarked Steve. “When he came to live with us, he weighed 396 pounds. At his last doctor’s visit, he was down to 324, and his goal is 250. He now looks 100 percent better—he’s come a long way, and we’re proud of him.”
Steve added, “To exercise, he walks two times a day around what we call the ‘big block,’ which is three thousand to four thousand steps.”
According to Steve, Chato’s social skills have greatly improved as well. “He used to sleep a lot. He’s really made leaps and bounds in getting his life organized and to live a full life. Now he just likes to go! We do all sorts of things together, such as shopping and eating at restaurants.”
The Gollys love to travel. Chato was able to move in and join the Gollys and Ron on their annual trip to Wyoming and South Dakota, where they saw Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Shoshone National Forest, Yellowstone and more.
“I haven’t traveled anywhere, so I wanted to try it,” said Chato. “I saw a lot of animals and buffalo. It was really fun.”
“We purposely visited Crazy Horse, because Chato has a Native American background,” said Steve. “We wanted him to understand and be proud of this part of his heritage.”
“He’s also part of our family now—just the same as Ron is,” said Steve. “We love him just as much, and our kids and grandkids love him, too.” (Note: The Gollys have 15 grandchildren)!
The feeling is mutual, which became apparent on their first Christmas together. “Chato had never bought anything for anyone before, but wanted do so for his new family,” said Steve. “He may have had only $6 per gift, but the grandkids were so happily surprised. We looked at Chato while they opened his presents, and he was absolutely just beaming with joy.”