Compeer, Inc. is a nonprofit agency that recruits, screens and trains community volunteers to be matched in supportive, friendship-based relationships with adults and youth who are coping with mental illness or emotional disorders.
Arthur Finocchario came to Compeer in September 1998. Another Compeer volunteer who spoke of his experiences as a youth mentor at a luncheon fundraiser inspired him. He was matched with 10-year-old Clayton. Clayton was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Depression. He lived with his mother and was having behavioral trouble in school with his teachers and his peers.
Finocchario approached his match with an open mind. He is patient, calm and most importantly, consistent. He meets with Clayton every Tuesday evening for about three hours. They go out for dinner, a movie or miniature golf. They spend a lot of time just talking.
It wasn’t long before Clayton began to open up and share some of his feelings with Finocchario. He listened, respectfully, and gave advice when he thought it was requested. In one instance, Clayton won the “Citizen of the Week” award at school. Clayton and Finocchario had a special celebration. Although there have been many ups and down since with Clayton, Finocchario is always there for him.
After realizing the tremendous need that Compeer has for volunteers, Finocchario encouraged family, friends and business acquaintances to volunteer. He agreed to be the speaker at that same luncheon and tell his and Clayton’s story stressing how much he had gained from the relationship. He also came up with a new strategy for how to recruit volunteers from that luncheon. Last fall, he co-chaired another luncheon in which nearly 1,000 area business people attended, breaking previous fundraising efforts.
Finocchario is now a very active member of Compeer’s Board of Directors and has recruited community members for various board committees. He is also a board member for the local Ronald McDonald House and is taking a major role in their building renovations. He manages to volunteer in all of these capacities while maintaining his job as vice president and partner in a large wholesale building supply company, which also sponsors gold tournaments for other youth charities. He is also a family man, married with three children. His wife and daughter have followed his lead and are also Compeer volunteers.