The Utah State Training School needs individual or group volunteers, according to volunteer coordinator Vicki Gurney.
The school serves 428 multiple-handicapped individuals, most of whom are profoundly or severely retarded.Volunteers are needed to create devices that enable residents - who have little control over their environment - to function as independently as possible.
For example, one volunteer created a buzzer so a resident could summon the staff at night. Toasters, blenders and popcorn poppers have been adapted so that residents can operate them with a push of a button.
"Imagine being wrapped in cotton with tape over your mouth, and you can see how difficult it is for the client to communicate. These devices can help them become more independent," Gurney said.
Volunteers are also needed to push residents to activities and then stay and associate with them. Residents need assistance getting to and from movies on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons, to church servcies on Sundays and to a dance once a month.
"Most clients don't communicate like you and I, and some may not communicate at all, but you feel something when you help them. One young girl went in crying because she was scared and came out a few hours later crying because she didn't want to leave," Gurney said.
Volunteers must be at least 12 years old. They can come once, or commit to coming on a regular basis. At the beginning of the first visit, a 45-minute orientation is given. Volunteers are instructed about wheelchair safety and school regulations and policy.
Other volunteer needs at the school include stenciling residents' bedrooms, coloring the pictures the residents use to communicate and making generic birthday cakes, which can be frozen and used later.
Individuals interested in volunteer opportunities at the State Training School should call the United Way Volunteer Center at 374-8108. Other community volunteer opportunities include:
- The March of Dimes is holding its annual Phonathon, Monday through Wednesday, May 20-23. Seventy-five volunteers are needed to call residents for pledges from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
- The Parent Education Resource Center needs volunteers for Thursday and Friday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. The center lends teaching and learning tools to families and provides family support groups. Volunteers would help with office work, computer input, toy repairs and the equipment-loan program.
-The Provo City Library needs volunteers for their "Camp Library" summer reading program. Volunteers assist the camp ranger with children's activities two times a week for four hours. Volunteers must be at least 21 years old.
For more information on these and other community volunteer opportunities, call the United Way Volunteer Center at 374-8108.