Editor’s note: This column was written by a Compeer Rochester volunteer, Lindsay, about her experience as a peer match with Kathy.
Compeer became an integral part of my journey four years ago, when I met my first peer match, Kathy. As a person who dealt with agoraphobic tendencies, I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, and I certainly didn’t know at the time just how much of an impact our friendship would have on me.
We started with a game of Glowgolf, an idea that I’d put on a shelf to collect dust years ago. When I brought the idea up to Kathy, I saw this flicker of joy that let me know I was on the right path. We ended up having so much fun that day, and I found myself looking forward to our visits.
As time went on, I watched her blossom into this beautiful, vivacious woman that had been dormant for several years, hiding in the shadows of loneliness. I began to challenge myself to figure out the things that brought her the most joy, and before I knew it, we were creating a small bucket list of things we wanted to try.
In doing so, it very quickly became this indescribable bond in which I found myself doing many tasks that I’d previously told myself I wasn’t capable of. I finally had a reason to get out of bed when I was depressed or anxious, and I said to myself, “If I can’t do this for me, I’ll do it for Kathy.” I now do it for both of us, and I know that neither of us will ever have to feel alone again.
I have made significant growth as a person, and I have Kathy and Compeer to thank for that! I now have another match, and I can’t wait to see the magnificent person she is; even more, I can’t wait for her to truly know that she is enough for this world, and that she matters.
That’s why I do what I do, because we all need that connection to others who understand our quirky traits, and accept us exactly where we are in that journey. The very existence of a program like Compeer means that we matter — beyond a diagnosis or clinical treatment — and that we are not broken or in need of repair. It breaches that familiar barrier regarding mental health, and it becomes a safe haven where we are met with kindness and complete acceptance. I look forward to a future where Compeer and like organizations have become a fundamental part of the betterment of our communities.
As we wrap up January as National Mentoring Month, join Lindsay and many others to start your own journey with Compeer Rochester. With as little as four hours a month, you can make a tremendous impact on someone in our community who lives with mental illness. After all, the many benefits of friendship apply to both people in the pair! Our volunteers are carefully matched according to mutual preferences and receive comprehensive, customized training, and personalized, consistent support from Compeer Rochester staff. Plus, we provide ample opportunity to bond with other Compeer Rochester participants through events and activities throughout the year, such as our annual cookout. If you’d like to hear more about the program, please call our Volunteer Recruiter- Krista Schrader at 585-439-3720 or go to our website at CompeerRochester.org and fill out a Volunteer form to request more information.