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 Chester County started up in May 1999. The first model Compeer program began in Rochester, NY, in 1973. Several more Pennsylvania Compeer Programs have been developed since 1984, when Compeer, Inc. began to spread this program around the country.

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 training does Compeer offer to volunteers?
Compeer provides orientation materials to the volunteer during the initial interview, to be completed on a self-study basis. In another one-to-one meeting, the volunteer and Compeer staff review the orientation materials together, answer questions, and ensure the volunteer’s readiness to meet his or her new friend with confidence.