Matched through Compeer Rochester’s Adult Program for over a year and a half now, Julie and Crystal have forged a lasting friendship.
Julie discovered Compeer Rochester on the local VolunteerMatch web site while seeking ways to meet new people and get more involved in the community. Crystal heard about Compeer on the radio, and soon thereafter picked up the phone. “Because of my illness, I often felt isolated and alone, and didn’t want to feel so alone anymore,” Crystal said, “and it sounded like Compeer might be the thing to help me get out of my shell.”
It didn’t take long for Julie and Crystal to hit it off. In fact, they did before they even started their introduction meeting.
“We first met at Crystal’s therapist’s office, a great plan for meeting each other with the support of the therapist and a Compeer Rochester representative,” said Julie. “Crystal and I actually found each other in the waiting room prior to the meeting and instantly bonded over our shared love for dogs and music.”
“We felt comfortable with each other from the start,” Crystal says. “We never really went through an awkward period.”
While conversations at Starbucks are a mainstay for Julie and Crystal, they also enjoy trying new activities together. “We often use the Compeer’s monthly bulletin of events to get new ideas,” Julie says. “We’ve tried boating, bowling, and going to the Strong Museum, which we learned isn’t just for kids!” She adds, “Crystal introduced me to meditation, which is a big part of her life. I especially appreciate how she has opened my mind to new experiences and perspectives.”
Julie and Crystal both feel they have a true and genuine friendship. “We don’t feel forced to do things together because we are a part of a program, but simply want to spend time together because we enjoy each other’s company and have a positive effect on one another,” Julie says. While she knows she signed up to volunteer with Compeer Rochester so she could be a support to someone in need, Julie values the mutuality of their relationship. “We both offer positive impact to each other’s lives and help one another handle the stresses and troubles that we experience in our lives.”
Julie and Crystal do meet often, but in between those visits, they stay connected thanks to modern technology. “We text sometimes too,” says Crystal, “…to check in and say hi, when we can’t be together.”
Julie believes that her volunteer affiliation with Compeer Rochester makes her friendship with Crystal richer. “The Compeer staff is wonderful,” she says. “It’s great to be involved with such an open and responsive organization.”
“Compeer did a good job matching us–we have a lot in common and that really helps. I’d say that because of my social anxiety, if there wasn’t an organization like Compeer to help me get connected to a new friend, it probably wouldn’t have happened. But because of the Compeer organization and experience, and Julie, my confidence and my connections have grown.”
Today, Crystal looks for new social opportunities. She’s tried getting to know new people through “Meetup” groups. And her Compeer friend is there to provide support. “Julie said she’d go with me to the first meeting. Having someone to go with me the first time, and not have to go alone, that makes it easier.” Crystal says that someday she will become a Compeer volunteer herself.
The bond between Julie and Crystal has evolved to where the friendship is truly unconditional. Crystal: “She doesn’t judge me if she doesn’t hear from me for awhile, or if I’m withdrawn or not talkative on more of a rough day, or if I’m not really up to getting together. She completely understands.”
Julie and Crystal exemplify the essence of Compeer Rochester—two willing and able friends making time in their hearts and lives for each other.