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Orange County Digest

Placentia : 'Phone-Friend' Service Planned for Children

August 26, 1985|Roxana Kopetman

Children in Placentia and Yorba Linda who arrive from school to an empty house soon will have someone to talk to in case of small emergencies or simply to "relieve the anxieties" of being alone.

"Phone-Friend," a service with trained volunteers, is gearing to begin operation by mid-November "at the latest," said Connie Underhill, a Placentia resident spearheading the local program.

Financed by donations, Phone-Friend will begin as a "warm line" between 2 and 7 p.m. and expand into a 24-hour hot line for children ages 5 to 18, Underhill said. By the time the phone service adds a crisis hot line, Underhill said, there will be about 45 trained volunteers.

Patterned after a program by the American Assn. of University Women in Pennsylvania, the service is geared for children who may face small crises such as broken glass or the dog running out the door, said Underhill, the mother of three.

"Many of them don't have a serious problem. They're just afraid of being alone. And sometimes, just knowing that they can call someone, it will relieve the anxieties," Underhill said.

Students at Topaz and Ruby Drive elementary schools in Placentia, where Underhill heads the two PTAs, will be the first to hear of Phone Friend. Yorba Linda schools will follow, and the program may expand to other cities, she said.

Underhill expects to operate the service with an $8,000 annual budget. Start-up costs will be about $3,000, most of which is for liability insurance, she said.

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