Volunteer as an individual, family or youth group for these area causes
For several families throughout Utah County, having a new baby means getting to know Susanna Johnson in addition to their new little one. Johnson is a home visitor volunteer through the Success by Six Welcome Baby Program.
Johnson travels from Lehi to Springville to visit first-time parents in their homes. As a Welcome Baby home visitor, she shares infant development information with the families and focuses her visits on helping the new parents provide their baby with a healthy beginning.
The program’s success rests on the shoulders of volunteers like Johnson, says Melissa Leuck, Welcome Baby volunteer coordinator.
There are 30 volunteers like Johnson who share tools that parents need to be effective caregivers and to provide children with a more promising future. Volunteers serve once a month for four hours.
“Becoming a new parent can be a wonderful yet overwhelming experience, full of emotions, questions and concerns,” Leuck says. “Home visitors act as peers and mentors for parents, helping them feel comfortable and confident in their new role.”
The Welcome Baby curriculum is centered on topics such as infant development, proper nutrition, safety, discipline and parent-child relationships.
Home visitors can be parents, grandparents, students or health-care specialists. Volunteers also have the opportunity to sharpen their parenting skills by staying current with the latest research.
“I love the interaction with families during home visits,” Johnson says. “It gives me hope for the future when I go into these homes where parents love their children and are taking steps to ensure their babies get the best start. We really focus on the strengths of the family.”
For more information on becoming a Welcome Baby home visitor, call (801) 374-8108 or visit www.unitedwayuc.org/welcomebaby.
HELP THOSE IN CRISIS
The Utah County Rape Crisis team helps survivors of sexual assault as well as their friends and families cope with trauma and courageously walk forward with their lives.
Pat Mills, the community outreach specialist for the Utah County Rape Crisis Team, says they receive calls from survivors who are grateful for the kindness and help that the volunteers extend.
“We are there as a calm in the storm,” Mills says. “We are there to support them and validate their feelings. We help them know that they are not at fault for what happened.”
Volunteers must attend a 40-hour, state-mandated training. Once the training is completed, volunteers serve on-call for 48 hours each month. During that time, they may assist victims on the phone, at the hospital or the police station. Due to the various locations where volunteers may serve, they must have access to a car throughout the 48-hour period of time.
“The benefit for the volunteers who go through the training is the knowledge they gain,” Mills says. “It is such a good training that they can use the rest of their lives. Part of the reward is knowing how to help somebody who is in distress.”
The next 40-hour training will be held in September at the Center for Women & Children in Crisis-Sexual Assault Services office located at 2483 North Canyon Road, Suite 200, in Provo. Volunteers must complete all 40 hours of training before working with assault victims.
Interested volunteers should call (801) 356-2511.
SPANISH FORK FAMILY LITERACY CENTER
Norman Smith, a retired professional teacher, now gives the gift of reading to those within his community. As the director of the newly relocated Spanish Fork Literacy Center at Landmark High School, Smith says volunteers are needed to help tutor adults and children.
“We encourage young adults, adults and senior citizens to share the gift of reading,” Smith says.
Smith is a part of The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), a United Way partner, which helps adults 55 and older put their life experiences and skills to work for their communities. RSVP volunteers choose how and where they want to serve. Many continue the type of work they enjoyed earlier in life, while others try something completely different.
In addition to teaching essential reading skills, Smith also calls for volunteers to welcome citizens to the city center at the historic Thurber School. Volunteers can serve Monday through Thursday in three-hour shifts. Anyone interested in creating confidence within those who cannot read well or who are interested in welcoming citizens should contact Smith at (801) 798-1609.
KIDS ON THE MOVE
The growing team at Kids on the Move offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Volunteers have the opportunity to spend time playing with children who have disabilities and their siblings while the parents are in classes and support groups. Community members can participate in planned activities with the children as they help the children learn to socially interact. Volunteers are asked to commit to a regular schedule — either once a week or once a month.
“Volunteers help parents by giving them time to go to class to learn better parenting skills and gain extra time,” said Larissa Evans, Kids on the Move volunteer coordinator. “Volunteers help children gain greater confidence and learn to interact with people.”
Kids on the Move is currently serving about 550 families each month with visions of expansion in the near future. Kids on the Move promotes two different programs for these families. One program is an Early Intervention program that is aimed toward infants up to age three who have developmental delays or disabilities. Children play in groups and have a personalized program including speech and physical therapy to help them reach their greatest potential. Groups can participate in cleaning parties by washing windows, chairs, tables and children’s toys. Individuals working on their Eagle Scout Award can plan different projects and build items including stacking blocks for children, a wooden playhouse, tree-stump chairs and a wooden phone booth. Other ideas for projects include sewing aprons, baby blankets and stretchy-neck bibs.
Kids on the Move also sponsors the Early Head Start program, which ensures the children of low-income families receive a proper educational start.
“We have family educators who go out to their home and teach them all kinds of skills like cooking, planning or any kind of life skill,” Evans says.
For information on how and when to volunteer, contact the United Way of Utah County at (801) 374-8108.