Ann Hartka, the founder of Compeer Sarasota was an amazing woman. She lived for 100 years and continued to sign up volunteers wherever she went.
"The idea to start a local Compeer chapter in Sarasota was proposed by pastresident Ann Hartka, who had a cousin with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
After seeing his transformation while working with his Compeer companion, Hartka suggested the program be mirrored here.
"There isn't a program like this in our area," Hartka said.
"After seeing my cousin's dramatic improvement, I felt we needed to bring this program to our own community.
"My cousin was an isolated misfit, afraid to leave his house. With the encouragement of his Compeer companion, he has made tremendous strides; returning to college, becoming a journalist, a teacher and a public speaker. He now travels around the country lecturing about how Compeer has made such a difference in his life."
Check out a past story about Ann in Sarasota Magazine
Participating adults are referred to Compeer by mental health professionals who know that the friendship and mentoring we provide can be profoundly therapeutic against the isolation, anxiety and other painful elements of mental illness. Our goal is that the volunteer/adult match be a source of wellness for both, that the volunteer and adult both give and receive!
Our special volunteers are thoroughly screened and trained for their important work and matched according to their preferences; and the matches are supported every step of the way by the Compeer staff. We organize regular gatherings and events for the matches such as Coffee Clubs, Bingo games, park outings, healthy meals in community with other matches, and in myriad other ways provide assistance and encouragement.
Through Compeer Calling, Compeer connects with adults in the community living with mental illness who are awaiting a one to one Adult Program match. These connections involve regular phone calls and/or emails, and provide a virtual but vital link to someone who cares.
Who Are Compeer Volunteers?
Individuals from all walks of life, nationalities and beliefs.
Individuals looking for a flexible volunteer opportunity that fits their current lifestyle and who can commit an average of 4 hours per month for one year.
Individuals who are friendly, accepting and emotionally mature.
Individuals wanting an opportunity for personal growth and to make a difference in someone’s life.
Individuals open to learning something new and use volunteering for Compeer as an opportunity to gain understanding and perspective on mental wellness.
As with all our programs, volunteers are provided thorough training and responsive support.