Friend-to-friend, Compeer connects lives
By Kaye Olsen '64
Question: What volunteer community service organization involves students, faculty and alumni of PLU?
Compeer is a national and international project, plan, and program that trains volunteers for friend-to-friend support of people hurting from emotional problems or mental illness.
Currently, Compeer uses the help of student volunteers (J-Term students learning on Tacoma's Hilltop); Mental Health Chaplaincy Advisory Board Member Stewart Govig, PLU religion professor; and Compeer staff member Kaye Olsen '64.
The one-year-old program began locally as a program of the Mental Health Chaplaincy for Associated Ministries. It is generously funded by the Ben B. Cheney Foundation and the support of individuals, organizations, congregations and the county. The program has enjoyed coverage in local, county and national publications.
In the Tacoma area, Compeer volunteers work with professionals at all three major mental health agencies, visit group homes, attend a monthly gathering of friends called "Coffee Breaks" at Grounds for Coffee, attend training sessions at PLU, Western State Hospital and Christ Episcopal Church, participate in one-to-one, group or telephone volunteer matches of friends - talking, walking, going to concerts or movies or other activities.
Thriving on the values of friendship and community-building, Compeer has a strong spirit for combating loneliness and stigma with those who experience mental illness. A wide range of flexible volunteer opportunities is available. Call the Tacoma office at 206-383-5755 for more information. Ask for Paul Rietmann, director, or Kaye Olsen, volunteer coordinator, or leave a message.
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