Compeer match celebrates first year of friendship

Compeer Match friends Ron, left, and Steve enjoy an afternoon picnic together.

Steve is 55 years young and has solid bowling skills and enjoys bike riding. He has many interests including sports, history, music and trying new dining experiences. Steve manages a mental illness which resulted in a loss of confidence for him along with depression and isolation from his community. In August 2012 Steve agreed to be matched with a new volunteer in the Compeer Program at Far West Center, Dr. Ron Arndt, for a Compeer Friendship Match.

The Compeer Program at Far West Center matches adult volunteers, one to one, with same-gender adults who are in recovery from mental illness. Dr. Ron’s role as a Compeer volunteer is to provide friendship and supportive encouragement to Steve and to plan opportunities for the two of them to socialize and enjoy community activities. Ron’s commitment, warmth and enthusiasm has truly brought Steve out of his shell and has given Steve many new reasons to smile. 

Steve and Ron’s friendship has grown over the past 12 months and it is apparent that they enjoy each other’s company. They look forward to their phone conversations, joining in on scheduled Compeer events, and they get together just about every week. Steve and Ron meet for lunch, shop at the West Side Market, join our Compeer Monday Nights Out, bike ride together and enjoy walks in local parks.   

Ron was committed to keeping their friendship going even when he and wife Trish had lived in Arizona for a few months last winter. Ron weekly sent cards and gifts to Steve and they stayed connected by phone. This Compeer Friendship Match with this special volunteer has taken Steve out of isolation and depression and given him more self-confidence in social situations. As a Compeer volunteer, Ron focuses on Steve as a kind and intelligent person and does not focus on mental illness. They laugh a lot together. Steve said to Ron, “I believe you are the best friend I ever had.” 

Last month Ron and Trish welcomed Steve and his niece Kate to their home for a summer barbeque. Ron grilled steaks and corn on the cob for his friends on his “Big Green Egg.” For dessert they all enjoyed Trish’s special peach pie and ice cream. The photos show how relaxed and happy Steve is as he shares this day with Ron and Trish! This was a perfect way for these two Compeer friends to celebrate the first year of their ongoing friendship. 

The Compeer Program at Far West Center offers a unique and rewarding volunteering opportunity. Compeer offers Ron and all volunteers the flexibility to fit Compeer into their monthly schedules. Compeer offers training to volunteers and provides ongoing support. If you are interested in volunteering for Compeer and bringing friendship into someone’s life, please call the Compeer Office at 440-835-6212, ext. 242. 

Denise Ayres

The Compeer Program has been serving adults that are managing mental illness from our Far West Center office fo almost 21 years! The Compeer Program is a branch of Compeer, Inc., an international organization. Compeer matches adult volunteers with same gender adult consumers of mental health services to provide friendship, emotional support, and encouragement.

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Volume 5, Issue 20, Posted 9:30 AM, 10.01.2013