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PROVO PROGRAM SEEKS SENIOR COMPANIONS

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People who are 60 years old or older are needed to serve lonely and isolated senior citizens through the Senior Companion Program.

The program's purpose is to provide companionship and supportive services to frail older peopleor disabled adults, enhancing their ability to continue living in their own homes or in residential living situations. The program also provides meaningful service opportunities for senior citizens.Volunteers visit homebound senior citizens who may often feel lonely and isolated unless they have some social contact. A senior companion becomes a special friend to a frail or homebound person by visiting, providing transportation and limited assistance with personal and household needs.

Rosemarie Chipman, director of the program, said the companions make a real difference in the lives of those they visit. Many of the homebound senior citizens would have to live in nursing homes if they did not have a senior companion to visit them.

In addition to benefiting the homebound, the Senior Companion Program also benefits the companion. "It gives them a daily purpose for getting up and doing something for others. It makes their lives more fulfilled," said Chipman.

Senior companions earn $200 or more a month through an hourly stipend. This stipend does not affect other financial assistance a companion may be receiving. Companions also receive sick, vacation and holiday pay, limited insurance benefits and reimbursement for mileage incurred through their service.

To become a senior companion, a person must commit to 20 hours of service per week and meet the low-income guidelines.

Other volunteer opportunities in the community include:

- Help your neighbors clean and repair damage that was caused by the recent windstorm. Provo City officials said the Franklin and River Grove communities were hit the hardest by the storm.

- The Utah State Hospital needs a volunteer to be a "special" friend to a 26-year-old woman who desperately needs companionship. A couple would be ideal friends for this woman. An older gentleman also needs a friend or two to help him go to physical therapy five times a week from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

- The Community Nursing Service and Hospice needs volunteers to visit and comfort the terminally ill. Volunteers provide much needed respite time for family members.

For more information about these and other volunteer opportunities available in Utah County, contact the United Way Volunteer Center, 374-8108.