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Rob Chisholm is a salesman of sorts. But what keeps him going isn’t money—it’s friendship. As the founding director of Compeer Chester County, he’s selling folks on the merits of helping those recovering from depression, schizophrenia and other major mental illnesses.

Part of an international nonprofit organization, Compeer is sponsored by the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, with guidance and referrals from the county. Working with part-time outreach coordinator Sherry Thompson, Chisholm trains volunteers and educates the public, doing his best to erase the stigmas of mental illness. His sales pitch: the positive, transformative experience of a Compeer friendship. “It works best when it’s reciprocal, when there’s give and take,” he says.

Compeer Chester County founder Rob Chisholm (Photo by Shane McCauley)Chisholm’s own Compeer friendship began back in 1991 with a man named John. When Chisholm lost his position at Norristown State Hospital, John sent him a job opening he’d clipped from a newspaper. Inspired, Chisholm went on to establish the first Compeer program in Delaware and Montgomery counties.

“At least once a month, you get together with your friend,” Chisholm says of the Compeer program. “You should see each other as equals.”

To learn more, visit compeerchesco.org or call (610) 436-4445.
 

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