Longtime Compeer volunteer Robyn Meyer has been recognized by the
United Way of Buffalo & Erie County's 2009 LIVE UNITED Volunteer
Spotlight program for her inspirational service as a mentor in the
Compeer Adult Program for the past 15 years.
In recognition of
Robyn's commitment, the Buffalo Bills, through NFL Charities, have
generously provided a grant of $1,000 to Compeer of Greater Buffalo.
have been a Compeer volunteer for the past (oh my goodness!) fifteen
years in the older adult program. My first friendship with my dear
friend Betty lasted ten years. Betty was, by diagnosis and outward
appearances, an individual dealing with serious and persistent mental
illness throughout her entire adult life. Her history included
alcoholism, homelessness and significant lengths of stays in
psychiatric facilities. However, and this is where the magic comes in,
to me she was my friend, my best friend.
Every week we would
meet, share our stories, eat ice cream and chicken wings, go for rides
and laugh about really silly stuff. Her labels didn’t mean a hill of
beans to me, and believe me; I learned and received more from Betty
than I ever could have given her. Unfortunately, in 2004, I lost Betty
to cancer, but our friendship will always remain in my heart. Since my
experience with Betty was such a joy, I requested to be considered for
another match with an older adult. Once again I was so fortunate to be
matched with Doris, and we have been friends for the past five years.
She too fought the demons of serious mental illness all her life, but
that is such an insignificant part of who she is. Doris has the most
courage and dignity of any person that I know. She has battled cancer
three times and has proven to be a noble and worthy warrior. She and I
have adopted Tim Horton’s as “our spot” and week after week, we meet
and talk about our kids; laugh about getting old; cry about losses we
have endured; and sometimes sit in silence enjoying being together.
Barbara is a veterinarian who treats horses and cattle. She's also been a Compeer friend for over 18 years, matched with young and old. Barbara's friends get to know her as a friend, and as a professional. Unfortunately, most of the doctor's stories are not for the faint of heart! Most of our stories about my work aren't fit to print!" joked Barbara. They'd probably gross a lot of people out, agreed Sharon. Before her friendship with Barbara, Sharon says, "I was really isolated and wasn't working at the time. I kept getting more depressed, but being friends with Barbara made me feel better. It was a help to have someone to talk to and go out with. I have a job now, and it's just good to be able to get out of the house and have a lot of things to do, whether it's for work or just to have a good time. For the first time in awhile, I enjoy my job. Getting to know Barbara was really the first step in getting out of the house and enjoying life rather than simply sitting around the house lonely and thinking about all my problems."
Veronica and Dorothy may not own the record for longest Compeer friendship, they very likely have one of the most touching, meaningful, and caring relationships. They have been friends for many years, and their friendship continues to blossom. "Ican't believe it's been so long,"says Veronica. "It really doesn't seem that long ago. I guess time does fly when you are having fun."Thinking back to their first outings together as a match, Dorothy admits tobeing slightly apprehensive even thoughthey had known each other previously. "I couldn't believe it at first. I was shocked! I was really nervous, but Veronica was so nice and so smart. That made it easy. Now, we're just like sisters," comments Dorothy. "Veronica is always there for me and takes care of me when I'm in need." One of Dorothy's most vivid memories of her friendship with Veronica is about their first trip to a local Olive Garden, which capped off a wonderful day together spent celebrating Dorothy's birthday. After sharing a savory meal,their table was approached by the restaurant staff, which began clapping and singing "Happy Birthday" to Dorothy. "Six waitresses or so lined up in front of our table, and I had no idea what they were going to do, and Veronica was just smiling! Then they started singing to me! It really felt good to have people sing to me on my birthday - I never had something like that happen before."
**The names and pictures in the stories above have been changed to protect the confidentiality of each individual**
Storytelling has the power to help us share our most common bonds of friendship and love. If you are a current or past Compeer volunteer, we would love to hear your story about your relationship with your Compeer friend, and what it means to you to be a Compeer mentor and volunteer. Click here to share your story with us.