DEAR ABBY: You have encouraged adults to volunteer as mentors to young people. I'm writing to describe a program in our community that may serve as a model for others.
The program is called "Grandfriends." It's a partnership between our local senior center, which recruits the seniors; a local middle school, which selects the students; and our local hospital system, which provides funding for after-school activities. In other communities, the seniors might be recruited through a church, synagogue or other organization.
A counselor at the middle school identifies students who might benefit, then matches each student with a senior based on interest profiles each has filled out. The seniors and students are introduced at an after-school get-together. After that, they meet one-on-one after school once a week or so and do whatever the two of them want to do -- shopping, going for a snack, going to a game, doing homework, working on a computer or just talking. Once a month, we hold an after-school get-together at the school, featuring some type of craft project, often with a community service theme. (Last February, we made valentines to send to veterans.) We also organize group tours to local points of interest.
The real magic of the program is the one-on-one bond that forms between the students and seniors. I urge other communities to explore this idea.
Abby, I would be happy to respond to anyone who would like information on starting such a program in his or her community. -- JANE RADATZ, CO-COORDINATOR, GRANDFRIENDS PROGRAM, POWAY, CALIF.
DEAR JANE: Active seniors are an untapped resource, able to offer wisdom, humor, talent and love to young people who need it. I am sure that variations on the "Grandfriends" program are available in many cities. However, if there is none, those who are interested in starting one should send a business-size (No. 10) self-addressed stamped envelope to: Grandfriends, 18402 W. Bernardo Drive, San Diego, CA 92127.
DEAR ABBY: I am writing in reference to your column on tattoos. I am a scientist, and it disturbs me that no one seems to be aware of the medical reasons for not getting tattooed.
The dye used contains iron salts. These, when subjected to the high magnetic field on an MRI, generates heat -- which can burn the flesh. Therefore, when you have a tattoo, you are eliminating an important medical tool for diagnosing problems.
Abby, please alert young people to an important consideration before getting tattooed. -- T.R. NEWMAN, PORT RICHEY, FLA.
DEAR MR. NEWMAN: With pleasure. According to my source, there are vegetable-based dyes and iron-based dyes used in tattooing. Wise consumers should determine what kind of material they will be getting. That way they can warn their doctor or MRI technician in advance, and there will be no surprises or unpleasant reactions in the middle of a procedure.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600