Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web  

Janet's Compeer Corner

Janet Nosek is a volunteer editor of  the Compeer Site at  the Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web.   Compeer Program

by Janet Nosek and Katsumi Kenaston

     Last  year I signed on with South Central Counseling to be a compeer in their volunteer program.  Being newly retired with extra time on my hands, I wanted to get involved in some activity that helps others hands on and is rewarding for me. The Compeer program is just that. After filling out the required paper work I was matched with a woman of similar age and with the same diverse interests as mine, especially those involving physical activities--skiing, walking, hiking, and sometimes biking. We also like to chat over coffee and lunch and have even gone to Whittier once and another time berry picking at Alyeska.  We have shared an evening at the theater at Cyrannos and will do so again.   Another good thing about the program is that is is unstructured so we get together at different times, accommodating both our schedules.  For me this has been a very rewarding and fun experience, and I am so glad I have become involved and recommend others to do the same. I have become friends with someone I truly enjoy whom  I wouldn't otherwise have met, and I have learned a lot along the way.     ........EXTRA....... This lucky woman's name is Katsumi Kenaston. Janet Nosek is a retired English professor and now authoring a book on William Folkner.  Having lived in the Deep South for a long time, I can relate to his literature very well even I am a first generation Asian American. You can imagine two old women are hopping around all over town giggling and acting like teenager girls pushing a grocery cart one of us in it where all the customers are laughing at both of us.  I salute her "hi normal person!"  sometimes, we wonder which one of us is normal!!!   for more information, please contact Kris Rogness, Compeer Coordinator at 261-5317 Southcentral Counseling Center 4020 Folker Street, Anchorage, AK 99508        

On 7/8/99, Janet says;

Here is something for Compeer Corner:

With summer here, there is so much to do in Anchorage, especially downtown if you don't feel
like exerting yourself by hiking, etc.
Katsumi and I have both been so busy that we haven't gotten together as much as we would
like to. But we had a great time on Sunday, the Fourth of July, which was a beautiful, warm
day. We went downtown and sat outside at the Side Street Cafe and had coffee and latte and
then wandered around looking at the flowers and all the tourists. To our delight we went to
Town Square in time for the free Air Force Band concert which featured a very good jazz
singer. Of course we indulged in typical summer holiday fare--I had a delicious Polish
sausage with lots of onions, and Katsumi had an ice cream cone. The sunshine and the music
nearly put us to sleep as we stretched out on the soft grass smelling the flowers!
Next we want to try the Wednesday market and take in another concert, maybe at the
Library. There is much to do in Anchorage in the summertime besides the usual hiking and
biking. Those activities are great, but sometimes you just feel like being lazy. We will
get on our bikes and ride out to Kincaid before the summer is over, though!
Let us know what you have been doing this summer and maybe give us some ideas. Remember,
the important things is just to do it--and spur of the moment is sometimes the best!

On Tuesday, November 23, 1999

It has been awhile since I reported in to Compeer Corner, but a lot has been going on.  If you haven't checked out the Computer Connection, you have missed something special.

Katsumi has worked very hard to provide a relaxing, friendly atmosphere in which to use the many computers and partake in some social activities like multi-cultural lunches on Wednesdays, computer classes, and even movies!  But I am hoping I can tear her away once in awhile to go skiing now that winter is here!  And be sure to read the newsletter--Southcentral has lots for us to do including the Christmas party and tickets to some great events once in awhile.  The days are getting darker, so now is the time for friend and compeer to make some plans.  There are bazaars, Christmas concerts, plays, and tree decorating to name a few.  Happy Holidays!


  Compeer Program   It's as Simple as Being a Friend The Best Hope for Mentally Disabled People   by Loyd L. Peck, Volunteer Editorial Columnist October 1998 news letter "Monthly Motivations" Southcentral Counseling Center 4020 Folker Street, Anchorage, AK 99508  Kris Rognes, Coordinator 261-5317   I donned my Compeer shirt after taking a shower and thought about the message printed on it - "It's as Simple as Being a Friend."  In dealing with stigma surrounding mental illness, it occurred to me that the best hope of eradicating stigma is to make and maintain an enlarging circle of friends who can convince others that mentally ill people are not ogres, but living, loving human beings.

Because a person is disabled, does that imply that the man/woman is any less of a person?  Many illnesses cannot be cured, but they can be stabilized through continuous treatment, medication, and counseling.  Even if mentally disabled people have a rather limited means of a lifestyle, whether it be work or engaging in social activities, they enjoy whatever social life they can find just as well as those who are not disabled.  In fact (one of those deep secrets) they relish social life even more than one might guess.

I believe Compeer volunteers are a Godsend.  To volunteer in itself demonstrates that there are those out there who care and provide compassion.  If the human condition can be improved through such an enormous contribution, God bless the Compeer volunteer companion!  It's nice to know that the Good Samaritans are there to help those in need.

As one might surmise, I am not a follower of Social Darwinism;  I do not believe in "survival of the fittest" as implied in cutthroat competition.  A social system based on a few of the best receiving all the spoils doesn't fare well with the rest of us who believe in the ability to give and take through the reasoning process.  Every person has the ability to contribute in some way, and enjoy the fruits of his or her labors, intrinsic as well as extrinsic.  It's only fair.  The cutthroat competitive system favors greed, awhile a fair system states, "share".  Pure and simple.

What do disabled people have to give?  Insights.  If one can gain their trust, one would be surprised at some very sharp intellect, inspiring change, which makes for a vibrant, healthy society.  It might take awhile, but remember that so many of the mentally disabled at one time were some of the brightest, glowing individuals, who through no fault of their own, broke their health.  Restore these people and watch them work!  Their insights may not necessarily favor some of the political practices, but what the heck, governments are subject to change too.

For whatever it's worth, support mentally disabled people and smile.  These people have much to offer, given a chance.


You are sitting alone in your apartment feeling alone.  You do not know who to turn to.  Who can you talk with?
Who cares?  Your caring Compeer friend does.

What is a Compeer?  According to Websters Dictionary the roots of the word "compeer" extends to the Latin
word "compeer" which means equal.  Webster defines compeer as a person of status or rank; peer or equal.
Another definition is a comrade, companion, or associate.  Both definitions apply to the people who choose to be
a volunteer in the Compeer  program.

What is the Compeer program?  The object of the program is to match caring, sensitive, and trained volunteers in
one to one relationship with children and adults receiving mental health treatment.  Compeer started as a local
non-profit organization in 1973 in Rochester, New York.  The initial small program has now grown to 119
programs across 26 states, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands.   In 1996, 3,327 volunteers provided
213,405 hours of friendship, advocacy, and support to 4,755 children and adults diagnosed with mental illness.
When calculated by a Gallop Survey the Compeer volunteer's donated time is worth millions of dollars and saves
the health care system many more millions.

What is the impact on the lives of adult clients who are in the program?  The majority of people under the program
stated that they have gained interpersonal trust, feel a sense of security, have improved self-esteem, improved
social skills, and have gained independence and self-reliance.  In addition 98% of referring therapists were well
satisfied with the Compeer services provided to their clients.

What is the commitment a Compeer volunteer makes to the program?  The Compeer volunteer commits themselfs
for only one year to spend a minimum of one hour per week with their friend.  The commitment may be extended
and in many cases the pair spends many years together as friends.   The activity may be as little as visiting or
shopping for one hour or as extensively as taking a mini-vacation together.  There are no set limits on how two
friends spend their time together.

How can I learn more about the Compeer program?  There are three ways to contact the International Compeer
Mail: Compeer, Inc.
 259 Monroe Square, Suite B-1
 Rochester NY  14607
Phone: 1-800-863-0475
TTY: 1-716-346-7959

Back to Home Page

Contact Webmaster at:

                 last modified 11/30/99