In 1965, our founder, Bernice Skirboll, was in a near-fatal auto accident that left her hospitalized for 2 months. Over the course of her recuperation, friends and loved ones were an incredible source of support, and she realized that they were instrumental in her return to health. She also realized that not everyone has the support that she was so fortunate to have. From this experience, she was inspired to make a difference with her life by creating Compeer. Started in 1973, with just 12 volunteers, Compeer now has 2,000 volunteers in 40 locations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. We have grown tremendously as a globally recognized organization and within our community. Since establishing ourselves in Lebanon County in 1999 our purpose has remained the same: to help bring the healing power of friendship to support those living with mental health challenges.
The Compeer model is based on the understanding that a supportive and caring friend can have a positive influence on an individual’s mental health. We support mental wellness by connecting someone living with a mental health challenge with a caring friend. Compeer’s community-based programs serve youth, adults, and Veterans, through volunteer mentoring and supportive friendship programs. Our programs are measured annually and consistently show improvements in an individual’s self-esteem, social skills, community engagement, and overall quality of life.