Dr. Matthew Childs recently shared that he first connected with MHA 20 years ago when he decided to make a career shift and apply to the American School of Professional Psychology. He wanted to gain some experience in the mental health field and he was screened, trained and matched as a Compeer volunteer with a “downhome Southern guy” named Jeff.
In 2003, Jeff lived with schizoaffective disorder and was referred to MHA’s Compeer program to help reduce his loneliness and isolation. Matthew wasn’t sure what to expect but upon meeting Jeff, he immediately thought, “He was the most genuine, sincerest, kindest guy; it was a real blessing. Jeff had a sense of humor about what he was going through – had a very pragmatic and honest way of thinking about it.”
The two enjoyed playing pool and eating wings, “just hanging out and genuinely enjoying spending time together.” The Compeer program works to make matches between friends with shared interests and will feel a natural fit. Matthew said, “Jeff was committed to taking care of himself, and he responded really well to our friendship – he never seemed uncomfortable about how we met.” For Matthew, the relationship provided a new understanding before launching into school to be a psychologist. “You realize that people are not broken or untouchable but at the mercy of an illness. Jeff maintained such a thoughtful approach to the world and himself, that was really moving. He took one day at a time and he was open to whatever would help.”
Although they were friends for a year, Matthew said it was emotional parting with Jeff when he went away to school in the D.C. area. MHA hopes to bring you a reunion story in 2023, the 20th anniversary of their friendship. Matthew welcomes the opportunity to see how his old friend is doing.
Consider requesting a friend or volunteering! MHA has had the Compeer program since 1990 and Compeer International will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2023.