For many terminally ill individuals, Hospice volunteers are making the difference in the remaining months of their lives.

Community Nursing and Hospice is holding training beginning Tuesday, Jan. 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for people who want to be a part of that difference. The training will run Tuesday and Thursday evenings through mid-February.Residents interested in working with cancer patients and other terminally ill individuals are asked to attend all of the training sessions.

Volunteer coordinator Lisa Gibby said the training sessions will cover topics such as communication skills, grief and bereavement, cancer issues, cultural approaches to death, as well as a tour of a local mortuary.

Once trained, the Hospice volunteers commit to serve two or three hours each week working with families with a loved one with a terminal illness. Volunteers provide the needed emotional support, as well as offer relief by providing a respite to families taking care of their loved one at home.

"Volunteers are an outside source of emotional support," Gibby said. "Many volunteers are people who have previously lost a loved one to a terminal illness and have come to terms with the loss. They are now ready to reach out and help someone else."

But volunteers do not need to have first-hand experience with terminal illness to be effective.

Community Nursing and Hospice also needs volunteer help in the office. Volunteers are needed to work a three-hour shift once or twice a week, answering phones, filing and helping with receptionist duties.

Volunteers interested in becoming a volunteer with Community Nursing and Hospice should call the United Way Volunteer Center, 374-8108.

Other volunteer opportunities include:

-Family Friends program needs volunteers, age 50 and older, to befriend a family with a special needs child. Volunteers visit the family once or twice a week, providing support to the parents and other siblings. Family Friends is planning a training session.

-The HEAT office needs volunteers to help answer phones, filing and taking applications from low-income families applying for help in paying their utility bills.

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