It's child's play.


Compeer was founded in 1973 in Rochester, N.Y., with just 12 volunteers at its start-up. Today, on average, 4,000 volunteers in Compeer locations around the world serve people with mental illness or emotional challenges.

The National Institute of Mental Health chose Compeer as a model program in 1982 and funded the development of similar programs throughout the nation. Today, Compeer is a model mental health organization with 50 locations in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

Routinely recognized as a national model, the agency has received the Presidential Recognition award by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the inaugural Eleanor Roosevelt Community Service award, the Presidential Volunteer Action Award, four Points of Light awards and recognition from the American Psychiatric Association.

The near fatal auto accident of our founder, Bernice Skirboll, and her ultimate recovery was the impetus for what Compeer is today: one of the leading non-clinical social services agencies that facilitates mental wellness throughout the world. Listen to her story:

Key Milestones

1973 Mental Health Association in Rochester, N.Y. establishes the Adopt-A-Patient program to enable formerly institutionalized patients to live successfully in the community.
1976 Bernice Skirboll is hired as Executive Director and develops Adopt-A-Patient into a community-based mental health support program.
1977  The name changes to Compeer to better describe the program.
1980   Compeer is chosen as a model program for the state of New York.
1982  The National Institute of Mental Health selects Compeer as a national model and provides funding to encourage replication of the model throughout the nation.
1982  Compeer receives the Presidential Recognition Award from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
1982  Compeer is featured on Good Morning America.
1983  The organization incorporates as Compeer, Inc.
1983  The first National Conference, funded by the NIMH grant, is held and results in the startup of eighteen affiliate programs.
1983  Compeer receives the Certification of Significant Achievement Award from the American Psychiatric Association.
1984  Compeer receives the first New York State Eleanor Roosevelt Community Service Award.
1984  President Reagan gives Compeer a Presidential Volunteer Action Award Citation.
1986  Compeer Montreal becomes the first Canadian affiliate.
1989  President George Bush presents the Presidential Volunteer Service Award to Compeer.
1991  NBC Nightly News reports on Compeer in a special feature segment.”
1992  Newsweek runs a Special Report on Compeer, “The Power of Friendship.”
1992  Compeer establishes its first overseas program in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
1996  Compeer establishes its first affiliate in Sydney, Australia.
1997  Points of Light Foundation chooses Compeer as a Connect America Partner.
1998  Bernice Skirboll presents at the first Conference on Mental Health held at the White House in Washington, D.C.
2001  Boston University research study begins on the efficacy of adult Compeer relationships.
2001  Compeer Regional Representatives developed a list of “Best Practices” to serve as program standards and benchmarks for future program development. Affiliate workshops were conducted around Best Practices at the 2002 Compeer International Conference in Pittsburgh.
2001  Bernice Skirboll and the international impact of Compeer are featured in the Rochester Review, a publication of the University of Rochester.
2002  Compeer receives the Eli Lilly Reintegration Award for social integration.
2003  Bernice Skirboll presents the Compeer Program at the World Federation on Mental Health Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
2004  Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents services begins through the Department of Health and Human Services, Family and Youth Services Bureau grant.
2005  An American Psychological Association task force highlights the Compeer Model as a best practices model for recovery in its publication, “Training and Best Practices for Recovery and Improved Outcomes for People with Serious Mental Illness.”
2005  Australia becomes the first country outside the U.S. to host the International Compeer Conference.
2006  Compeer: Recovery Through the Healing Power of Friends by Bernice Skirboll is published by the University of Rochester Press.
2007  Compeer Sydney receives the National Australia Bank Volunteer Award, a statewide recognition, for best practice in volunteer.
2008  Boston University research study is published
2008  Compeer Youth Programs in Kansas are named Gold Star programs by Kansas Mentors. The award is given to mentoring partners who maintain standards that ensure a quality mentoring experience.
2010  Compeer Founder Bernice Skirboll is featured in Kaleidoscope, a publication of The College at Brockport, S.U.N.Y. in an article entitled “Bunny Skirboll: A Life Built Around Friendship”
2010  Compeer begins pilot CompeerCORPS program.
2012  Australia hosts strategic visioning conference with President/CEO of Compeer
2012  Compeer for Seniors, an older adult service of Compeer Greater Buffalo, wins the 2012 Eli Lilly Reintegration Award for Social Support
2013  Compeer celebrates 40 years of healing through the power of friendship and 40 years of success of the award-winning Compeer Model.
2013  The Award-winning Compeer Model is included in the SAMHSA National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).


2015  "Friendship is Good Medicine” article about Compeer is published in the Winter edition of Behavioral Health News.
2016  Compeer Inc. and Compeer Buffalo merge. Buffalo, N.Y. is now the headquarters for Compeer International and Compeer Buffalo.
2019  Compeer Inc. awarded $1.8M from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention