Compeer member celebrates a year of success

The Compeer Program at Far West Center holds a “Monthly Game Night” where members and volunteers get together to play board games, card games, Bingo, or group games like Charades. It is free and usually scheduled in the last week of the month so those managing fixed incomes can participate. The Compeer Game Night on Nov. 23 was extra special. On that date, the game night was also a shared celebration for Shari, a member who achieved a successful year of mental health.

In 2009 Shari experienced a difficult year of increasing symptoms and depression. In 2009 she spent more than 250 days hospitalized. It was difficult for her to see through her depression and see her skills and future goals. Fortunately for Shari, in October 2009 she started to feel better and regain her optimism. Shari followed her mental health treatment goals which included the Partial Hospitalization Program, Case Management, Counseling and Family Group. Shari reconnected with the Compeer Program and attended our events.

In January 2010 Shari and other Compeer members and volunteers met for Monthly Coffee Night. That evening it was evident that Shari’s great sense of humor was returning. Shari, in a friendly manner, was teasing me about my obvious lack of height (I am 5-feet tall). 

Shari jokingly asked if I would make a silly pose for a photograph. Everyone laughed, including me. I told her a photo like that would be worth something, but I would do it if she stayed out of the hospital for a year. Shari immediately agreed to the deal. It became a “running joke” throughout the next several months. It provided a sense of group humor for Compeer.

Shari then made a personal decision to get to work on making her goal of remaining out of the hospital for the year come true. Not only did Shari stick with her mental health service plan, but she amazed us all! Shari also gave up smoking, she worked on her dog grooming skills and she took her friend that was managing MS and in need of a wheelchair to fun social activities in the community.

Unfortunately, Shari had some very sad events occur in 2010. Shari lost two good friends to physical illnesses. One of those was Karen, the friend managing MS. Karen was also a valuable member of Compeer.

Shari stayed on her recovery path through 2010. On Nov. 23, Shari succeeded in managing her mental health for the entire year! Not once was she hospitalized. Also, she is still a non-smoker! Compeer members and volunteers offer her much-deserved congratulations. 

What about the deal Shari and I made?  I promised her I will make good on letting her take a comical photo of myself.  Perhaps it will make the Observer. As I tell Shari, the photo is well-deserved because she had the harder end of the bargain!

As Shari continues on her personal path of recovery, better things are coming her way. Shari was on the Compeer waiting list for a volunteer match. This fall a social work student named Krystal signed up to be a Compeer volunteer. Shari and Krystal became a “Compeer Match” this fall. Shari continues to set goals, maintain optimism, and make us all laugh with her jokes.

Compeer has a waiting list for members in recovery to be matched with volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or have questions, please call 440-835-6212, ext. 242. 

The 21st Annual Compeer Winter Celebration of Friendship will be held Thursday, Dec. 9, at the Bay Lodge. From Shari’s success story and her Compeer match you see that Compeer has a lot to celebrate. The event and dinner are created by donations. If you would like to donate please call us or email

Denise Ayres is the Compeer Program Coordinator.

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Volume 2, Issue 24, Posted 4:00 PM, 11.24.2010