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YOUTHS PROVE WORLD ISN'T SUCH A BAD PLACE

Last week a friend of mine and a business client were found slain at the client's home in Los Angeles.

My friend was the father of six children - the oldest a Brigham Young University freshman; the youngest, excited about his eighth birthday, was to be baptized by his father the day police found the father dead.Over lunch recently, an associate of mine commented on world conditions and how scary it is to bring children into the world with all the bad things going on.

Being an expectant mother, I too wonder what kind of world my child will live in.

These feelings of despair for mankind left me when the United Way of Utah County announced its 1992 Youth Service Awards Wednesday. What remarkable people!

Bill Hulterstrom, executive director of United Way of Utah County feels the same. "We're in good hands in the future if this is a representation of the youths in our community," Bill said. "It's exciting to be able to see youths making such a difference in their community." Among the winners were:

Jeffrey A. Titara, a student at Independence High School, overcame many obstacles in his young life to find fulfillment in voluntarism. He volunteered to help with his school's evening programs, at nursing homes, cleaning up the cemetery, with Muscular Dystrophy and Sub-for-Santa. After learning his high school only had enough money for a paperback yearbook, he earned money selling concessions at BYU games to pay for a quality hard-bound cover.

Todd Albrecht volunteers four times a week at the Family Support and Treatment Center's crisis nursery. His calm manner and creative enthusiasm have been a boon to the children at the center. Several times, at a moment's notice, he has prepared supper for 15 to 20 children and stays after his shift to help the house parents.

Doug Blanchard, also a volunteer at the Family Support and Treatment Center, wanted to be involved in a way that would make a difference. He became acquainted with a 4-year-old boy who has several medical problems and is brain damaged. After spending several hours with the boy, Doug realized he had done something "really important today." When asked to elaborate, Doug told how for the first time the boy spoke.

Nanette Mortensen read in a newspaper about an organization that gave bears to their community emergency unit. After serious thought, she contacted the police department and the emergency service in Pleasant Grove. She made 247 bears for children that would be affected by traumatic experiences. Police report that "The Bears That Care" have brought security to many recipients.

These youth volunteers along with others honored are making their community a better place. Let's hope the rest of us can follow in their footsteps.

(Genelle Pugmire, Provo, is editorial assistant in Deseret News' Utah County bureau.)