Make a Friend – Change a Life

Thirteen years ago I entered unfamiliar territory, and took a job….
This was a new venture for me because I had always worked for myself, now I would be working at a nonprofit agency. My new position, Volunteer Coordinator, was with The Mental Health Association of Rockland (MHA), in a program called COMPEER.

I lived in Nyack for years and never heard of MHA of Rockland. Much to my surprise, when I began my new job I saw so many people I knew, both employees and consumers! That gave me a feeling of comfort. People tell me they have this same feeling when gaining a COMPEER friendship match.

It is my job to sit down with consumers with mental health issues and find a compatible volunteer. Volunteers tell me there are 168 hours in a week and they want to give back to their community. While our volunteer’s commitment is only one year with four hours a month, our friendships last for many years. Several volunteers have mentored their matches through schools and jobs.

The most common way to volunteer is a one-to-one friendship. You and your new friend will plan when to meet and what to do. It could be as simple as getting a cup of coffee or taking a walk at the lake. It is all about sharing your life and listening to your chosen friends. You discuss real-life matters. The secret to our success is the trust built up between friends. This success is paramount to recovery.

Please think about someone you know that can be helped or give hope to another. I am often reminded by my volunteers to ‘pay it forward’. They tell me that they get more than they give. They tell me that I could not pay them for the hours in COMPEER.

I am so happy to have this job. It is on my Top 5 List of what I love in my life.

Call Vivian Chek at 845-267-2170 x277

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