Compeer shares fun and games with Westlake seniors

Dorothy’s face lit up with a big smile when she realized she had won the game taught by her Compeer friend, Holly. Dorothy is a member of the Residents’ Club at the Gardens of Westlake senior living facility on Detroit Road. 

“Compeer Together Volunteers,” a supported volunteering group of Compeer at Far West Center, visited the Residents’ Club one recent evening and brought along some games to share with seniors. All members of the Residents’ Club gave Compeer volunteers a warm welcome, and like Dorothy, happily engaged in conversation and games. When our social evening ended all agreed that we would meet again in December. 

The Compeer Program at Far West Center is a nonprofit affiliate of Compeer Inc., assisting adults in recovery from mental illness to avoid isolation, strengthen social networks, and connect with their communities. "Compeer Together Volunteers" began in February 2013 when we received our first opportunity from the Lutheran Home at Concord Reserve on Dover Center Road in Westlake. 

Compeer staff recognized that a number of members wanted to try volunteering but the anxiety they experienced held them back from doing this alone. Earlier this year, I met with Christine Saner, Director of Life Enrichment for the Lutheran Home at Concord Reserve, to discuss how the compassion demonstrated by adults in recovery could help senior residents.

 “Game Night” started in February and it was apparent it was a perfect matching of people that love an opportunity to socialize and have fun. Compeer members and volunteers have met together at the Lutheran Home monthly on Wednesday evenings to play games and laugh along with senior friends. Our new friends at the Lutheran Home like Bill, Nita, Frank and Jeanette, keep us challenged to find more words for Scrabble.

In October Barb Bartlome, Outreach Coordinator at Gardens at Westlake, reached out and invited Compeer staff to meet and discuss how Compeer may be able to connect with senior residents. It was decided that a Game Night with Compeer Together Volunteers was an idea well worth trying. On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Compeer’s supported volunteering group made a visit to the Residents’ Club directed by Activity Director Linda Burgess. Conversation was easy and games were shared along with smiles and laughter. 

These opportunities demonstrate how people managing mental illness can recover and do want to take positive roles in their communities. In the Compeer Program there are many adults in recovery from mental illness that either have experience as caregivers, in home or professionally, or are looking to find opportunities to help others. Individuals managing mental illness have experienced firsthand how patience and compassion are positive factors essential to decreasing depression. The majority of people on their recovery path share this one characteristic – empathy.

Compeer can always use more adult volunteers to help us give support and encouragement to adults who manage a mental illness. Please call 440-835-6212, ext. 242, to become part of the rewarding program. 

Denise Ayres

The Compeer Program has been serving adults that are managing mental illness from our Far West Center office beginning in 1989. 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 23, Posted 10:11 AM, 11.12.2013