Friendships – Celebrate Each Other!

Written on by Olga Antonyuk

International Friendship month is February 2022. What would we be without our friends? defines friendship as a state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy, and trust between two people. People who are friends talk to each other and spend time together. They trust one another, celebrate important things, and are supportive during troubling times. Friendships are good for our health. They can prevent isolation and loneliness and provide a chance to offer needed companionship, too.

Compeer of Suburban Philadelphia connects two people in supportive, mutual friendships with a goal to bring belonging and purpose to someone who is struggling with a mental health challenge. Compeer currently has over 50 matches. One of the matches has been together for almost 30 years. Both the friend and the volunteer have helped each other through the decades with various challenges, while learning to be resilient and offering each other hope. They report the longer they are friends, the more they enjoy each other’s company.

Many of the Compeer matches have conveyed they feel a greater sense of belonging and well-being by having a nurturing, close, meaningful relationship that offers support through thick and thin. Here is a recent testimonial from one match that has been together for over three years: Clara and Mary.

“I have been involved with Compeer for over three years. The longer I know Mary, the more I admire her. She lives on her own in an apartment. The only family she has lives in California, and they rarely speak to each other. Mary is very independent and resourceful. We both suffer from mental health challenges and can commiserate with each other. We both enjoy going out to lunch. Mary would not be able to do this except for the $8.00 stipend we get for each outing. We have done other things also. We have gone to Booth’s Corner several times as well as the Reading Terminal. We also went to the American Revolution Museum.  Due to the pandemic – we spent a good deal of time talking on the telephone. Once the quarantine was lifted, we gradually and carefully started to go out again. Being around Mary helps me appreciate all that I do have and makes me feel like I’m making a difference in another person’s life. I’ve also volunteered to assist the Compeer Director Olga in several social events. Seeing all members and volunteers enjoying themselves verifies how important Compeer is for the community.”

Compeer friendships have proven to bring happiness to both the volunteer and the participant. The Compeer program has various volunteer opportunities for anyone wanting to get involved:   

  • Compeer 1:1 Friendship — The goal of the Compeer program is to provide a one-to-one volunteer relationship for people with a mental health diagnosis. This friendship “match” meets at least four hours a month to participate in social and community activities like lunch, shopping, walks, museums, or a sports event.
  • Compeer Calling Buddy — Compeer calling volunteers may not feel comfortable or be able to volunteer for a one-to-one match, so they make weekly telephone calls to people on our waiting list to offer them a “phone connection” until a one-to-one volunteer match can be found.
  • Compeer E-Buddies: E-Buddy is for individuals who prefer to communicate through text messaging and/or email.
  • CompeerCORPS: The Compeer program recently expanded to also offer mutual friendship matches veteran to veteran. To read more about these services, please click here.

Compeer is looking for volunteers and other resources to support the matches and to help with expansion. Your help is greatly appreciated. To learn how to help, please click here.

I hope you have some wonderful friendship celebrations with your friends this month and always!

This blog was written by guest author, Olga Antonyuk. Olga is the Program Director of Compeer of Suburban Philadelphia located in Swarthmore, which is a program of Voice and Vision, Inc. You can read more about Olga on the Staff page of the Voice and Vision website.

Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash

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