Compeer volunteering offers simple way to give back

Some of you reading the Westlake | Bay Village Observer may be either considering or looking for volunteer opportunities.  People decide to become volunteers for many reasons, including, a desire to "give back" and share talents and skills, to become more connected to an organization, and to meet like-minded people with similar ideas and interests.   

The Compeer Program has great appreciation for  our volunteers. We are looking for more individuals to add to our “Valuable Volunteers” list. I am taking this opportunity to answer some common questions asked regarding Compeer Volunteering. 

Q: What do Compeer volunteers do?

A: After being interviewed and trained, each volunteer is matched, one to one, with a same-gender adult in recovery from mental illness. The volunteer gets to choose specifics about his or her potential match, such as age group, city of residence (in Cuyahoga County only), request a non-smoker, and types of interests. The volunteer gets to meet his or her potential match at our office. If both volunteer and member agree to the match then the two of them discuss the how, where and when of their weekly or monthly activities together.  

Q: How much volunteer time is required by Compeer?

A: Each volunteer gets to arrange his or her own schedule! This makes the Compeer volunteering experience flexible enough to meet any schedule. Volunteers are required to communicate or meet with his or her match one hour per week or four hours each month. The initial commitment is twelve months. 

Q: Do I need education or experience in working in a mental health setting?

A: No previous education or experience in the mental health field is required. You need to be 18 years old or older, have a valid state driver’s license or ID, and patience and understanding in talking to others. If you like to talk, socialize, laugh and meet people, you are perfect for Compeer!

Three reasons you should not be fearful of volunteering in a mental health services program like Compeer:

1. The Compeer Program at Far West Center has operated for 23 consecutive years and is a branch of Compeer Inc., an international organization. Check out their website at Our program is listed under “Ohio.” Click on “People” at the bottom of the home page and read the July “Story of the Month,” which is from our program!

2. Compeer staff offers ongoing support and direction to volunteers. Volunteers can request additional information regarding mental illness, guidelines, communication issues and ideas for activities at any time. A schedule of weekly facilitated activities is provided. Volunteers are only responsible for their own transportation and expenses. 

3. If you decide to try Compeer, you will find out, like our new volunteer Rachael did, that people in recovery from mental illness have much more in common with you than differences. 

Rachael met our lively  group last Monday at one of our two monthly Coffee Nights. We met at a local restaurant. The girl working the counter asked me, “Are you all a party?” She saw Compeer as 15 adults laughing and having fun together. 

If Compeer volunteering sounds like a good fit for you, contact us at 440-835-6212, ext. 242, or email   

Denise Ayres

Denise Ayres is Compeer Program Coordinator.

Read More on Health & Wellness
Volume 3, Issue 17, Posted 2:58 PM, 08.23.2011