Fredonia Presbyterian Church opens its doors to county’s Compeer

Jan Ball, director of Chautauqua County Compeer, a United Way and STEL (Southern Tier Environments for Living) agency, again expressed her gratitude to the Fredonia Presbyterian Church congregation for making their community room available for Compeer social events as well as Compeer Youth Services programs.

Compeer has long been based in Jamestown with events there being held in the United Methodist Church. Because of the driving distance involved, mentors and friends who live in the northern parts of the county are more likely to miss social events. Now Compeer is beginning to build a strong circle of friends in the Dunkirk/Fredonia area.

Popular and lively bingo, pizza and wing nights took place in October, February, and March, and a family movie night, complete with snacks and popcorn, closed out the year in April. The first annual November Thanksgiving dinner held in the church hosted a full house, and was the highlight of the year.

Church members provided favors and table decorations which were much appreciated by the guests. This event will now serve as a complement to the Christmas party held in Jamestown each year.

Chris Gibson, hired under a STEL grant this year to expand public awareness of Compeer’s offerings to the community and expand its mentoring program, is hosting a series of events in the church’s community room on the second Thursday of the month from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Gibson’s programs, open to all community members, are aimed at helping parents, teachers, and other professionals working with young people, especially middle school children and teens, gain helpful hints and share ideas that work.

The May program is titled “Listening With Both Ears – Communicating with Youth” and will provide suggestions on how to respond effectively to young people. Programs will resume again in September and will be held monthly until the end of the year.

Rosie and Marty Sanden, longtime mentors in Compeer, are the coordinators of the Compeer events. Awarded the STEL Community Service Award for Individuals in 2012, they have made several presentations at both SUNY Fredonia and community events, promoting the rewards of participation in the program for both mentors and their friends.

Persons recommended for the program by their mental health providers benefit immensely from social interactions with their mentors and participation in group social events. Studies have shown that friendships are indeed part of the healing process for everyone, so mentors find themselves receiving as much as they give.

Anyone interested in knowing more about Compeer can check the organization’s Facebook page, call Jan Ball at 800-887-7337 or call Marty and Rosie Sanden at 366-9242.