Making Friends, Changing Lives.

What does the word “compeer” mean?
The word compeer, starting with a lower-case “c,” is a dictionary word meaning “peer, equal; companion, comrade.” It can also refer to either person paired up in a Compeer friendship. The word Compeer, starting with a capital C, is the service-marked, volunteer friendship program.

How long has Compeer been around?
Compeer Chautauqua started up in 1989 with Compeer Youth Mentoring to follow in 1999. The first model Compeer program began in 
RochesterNY, in 1973. Several more Compeer Programs have been developed since 1984, when Compeer, Inc. began to spread this program around the country and also into Australia and New Zealand.

How does friendship with a community volunteer contribute to a person’s recovery from mental illness?
Sharing conversation and activities with a supportive friend helps a person to gain self-confidence and self-esteem, fosters personal growth, and eases the fear, loneliness and isolation that are often by-products of mental illness. A caring friend can help restore some joy and hope to the life of a person living with a psychiatric diagnosis.

What are the full responsibilities if I volunteer?
One-to-one friendship volunteers agree to spend four (4) hours a month with their Compeer friends, for at least one full year. When not visiting in person, friends keep in touch by phone or mail every week. Volunteers send brief monthly updates to the Compeer office.

Do I, as a volunteer, have to bear the financial cost of activities with my friend?
No, each of you pays for yourself. If you want to treat your friend for a special occasion (such as a birthday dinner), that’s up to you.

What if we don’t get along?
This is rare, but if either party feels that things aren’t working out, despite support from Compeer staff and the referring therapist, a change in friends can be requested.

What happens if a match just isn't working?                                                                                                                  If a match isn't working, both parties can be re-matched.

What training does Compeer offer to volunteers?
Compeer provides orientation materials to the volunteer during the initial interview. After all background checks are completed, the new volunteer attends a 2-3 hour training which includes a review of Compeer policies and procedures and helpful information to be able to support the friend’s recovery process. Additional trainings on topics of interest can be scheduled at any time, and Compeer staff maintain regular contact with volunteers and participants to ensure a successful match.

I've had some mental health problems myself. Can I volunteer for Compeer?
Yes, Compeer encourages folks who are recipients of mental health services, who are currently stable, to become Compeer volunteers. The model of recovery you can provide is extremely valuable. As part of the application process, the program coordinator will consult with the treatment provider you designate to be sure you are able to serve as a volunteer.

Is there a way my organization or my faith community can assist Compeer?
Yes, you may invite speakers from Compeer to your congregation or your group. This is the primary way we gain new volunteers. Your organization could also be represented on our Advisory Board, make a donation, or sponsor a fundraiser for Compeer. We welcome such donations since other sources of funding have been drastically cut.

Are there other ways I could help with Compeer?

Volunteers can help with:

  • Short term volunteer effort to share a skill with a group of participants
  • Participate in one time events
  • Recruiting new volunteers
  • Fundraising events
  • Grant research
  • Grant writing
  • Media interviews and Compeer Recruitment events
  • Soliciting event tickets
  • Clerical tasks
  • Serving on the Advisory Board which meets monthly
  • Monetary donations and donations of office supplies or event tickets are also welcome.