During her long rehabilitation from a near-fatal automobile accident in 1975, Rochesterian Bernice “Bunny” Skirboll discovered the healing power of friendship and vowed to make a difference in others’ lives. She got involved in the Mental Health Association’s Adopt-A-Patient Program and soon transformed it into the community-based Compeer model, serving as Executive Director from its inception through 2006.

Under Skirboll’s leadership, Compeer grew from a small program in Rochester to an internationally recognized mental wellness model and organization — one that has demonstrated solid results and been replicated around the globe.

Today, the Compeer Rochester team carries forward our founder’s vision and mission to provide healing friendship to community members living with mental health challenges — and to shatter the stigma surrounding mental illness.


The Mental Health Association in Rochester, NY establishes the Adopt-A-Patient program to enable formerly institutionalized patients to live successfully in the community. Our founder, Bernice Skirboll, joins them in 1975.


Skirboll develops Adopt-A-Patient into a community-based mental health support program and changes the name to Compeer (Companion + Peer = Compeer).


The New York State Office of Mental Health supports expansion of Compeer to other New York State communities. The Adult Program is established.  


Compeer is funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health to serve youth ages 6 to 18.


Compeer establishes its first international affiliate, in Sydney, Australia.


Compeer Rochester receives a federal grant for the Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents Program.


The Compeer supportive friendship/mentoring model is recognized by the American Psychological Association as a Best Practice for Recovery.


CompeerCORPS is born as Compeer Rochester partners with the Rochester Veterans Outreach Center to provide peer to peer mentoring and support to returning military members.


The Compeer model is recognized as an evidence-based model by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). We are listed in the National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices.


Compeer celebrates its 40th anniversary with a new logo and a renewed commitment to serving people in our community living with mental illness.


CompeerCORPS joins forces with the Monroe County Veterans Services Agency to expand and enhance its work with community Veterans through the Private Joseph Dwyer Program and Fund.


Compeer Rochester begins offering Home and Community Based Services for Adults, a Medicaid Managed Care Program.


Compeer begins Children and Family Treatment and Supports, a Medicaid managed care program, and Youth Skillbuilding.

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“The intervention Compeer offers — that getting away from loneliness and isolation — is so powerful. The impact it has on people with mental illness doesn’t always manifest itself in a big milestone or life change, but giving someone a human relationship fills a basic need that empowers them to lead a life that’s meaningful. And for the volunteers, it often helps them overcome preconceptions and gives them a totally different vision of what mental illness is.”

— Dana Frame, President/Executive Director

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