Volunteers 55 and older are needed to participate in the Family Friends Proj-ect, sponsored by Utah Easter Seals.

Family Friends matches senior volunteers with families that have a disabled or chronically ill child. The volunteer spends up to four hours a week helping the child and family.The volunteer may help the child with schoolwork or hobbies, or simply listen and talk. Volunteers may also watch the children while the parents take a break from dealing with the situation or simply provide some adult companionship.

"The volunteer is truly a friend to the family, not just to the special needs child, but to the siblings and parents also," said director Stella Allen.

Although the Family Friends Proj-ect has been serving families in the Salt Lake area for several years, efforts in Utah County just began in January.

"Since that time we have been receiving many requests for the service from families and health-care professionals in Utah County. What we need now is the volunteers," Allen said.

A love for children and a sensitivity to special needs are the only prerequisites for interested senior volunteers. The Family Friends Project provides the necessary training.

Once volunteers are matched, they are asked to make a nine-month commitment to stay with the family. For most volunteers that is easy, because after a few short visits they feel like one of the family.

Family Friends volunteers also have the option of receiving $8 dollars a day for their help. Travel costs are also reimbursed.

For more information on the Family Friends Project, interested volunteers may call the United Way Volunteer Center at 374-8108.

Other community volunteer needs include:

-Volunteers are needed to work in the late morning or early afternoon hours at the Orem PERC Center, loaning out wheelchairs, walkers and other equipment for the handicapped.

-Low-income senior citizens are needed to work 20 hours a week for a small stipend helping teens at the Provo Youth Detention Center. The stipend does not affect any government senior benefits.

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