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Many families in Utah County need older volunteers to help with the Family Friends Project of the Utah Easter Seal Society.

Families with a child who is disabled or chronically ill have unique needs. Caring for a such a child requires more time and emotional strength.Volunteers visit once or twice a week, spending up to four hours helping the child and family. The volunteer may help the child with schoolwork and hobbies, or simply listen and talk. Volunteers also may watch the children while the parents take a break from dealing with the situation.

Volunteers need only be age 50 or older and have a love for children and a sensitivity to special needs. The Family Friends Project provides the necessary training.

Volunteers are matched according to abilities and characteristics. Once matched with a family, volunteers are asked to make a nine-month commitment. Volunteer coordinator Dana Porter says most volunteers enjoy making this commitment because after a few visits they become like one of the family.

For one family in Utah County, their family friend devotes his attention to the other children. This is important because the time and emotional energy required to care for disabled or chronically ill children is very great.

Family Friends volunteers receive the benefit of helping a special family, develop a rewarding and close personal relationship with a child and family, and also have the option of receiving $8 per visit. Travel costs are reimbursed.

Utah County has many families who need family friends. Interested volunteers should call the United Way Volunteer Center, 374-8108, for more information.

Other community volunteer opportunities include:

- The Women's Facility at the Utah State Prison needs two female volunteers to teach classes to inmates. A volunteer, preferably with a nursing background, is needed to teach birthing and prenatal care. And a volunteer is needed to teach a parenting class. Hours and days are flexible.

- Volunteers are needed to read and record a telephone list for a handicapped salesperson. This can be done at home, about two hours per week.

- The Family Support and Treatment Center needs a few people or a small group to help weed and plant flowers in its small back yard used by the crisis center nursery.

For more information on these and other volunteer opportunities, call the United Way Volunteer Center, 374-8108.