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Friendship healing mental health

"It's a basic human need"
Posted at 6:13 PM, Oct 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-26 18:35:39-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “A simple concept of friendship — it's a basic human need we all have,” remarked Cheri Alvarez, CEO, Compeer Buffalo.

At Compeer Buffalo — the slogan is “Mental wellness starts with friendship.”

“I don't think everyone realizes the impact humans have on each other so when you're lacking that and that social connection — it's a basic human need and without it - your mental health gets worse,” explained Alvarez.

Cheri Alvarez, CEO, Compeer Buffalo.

Alvarez says the organization's purpose is to help those struggling with a mental health challenge and team them with a volunteer who can provide friendship.

Nikko Diaz, who turns 13 on Sunday, tells me he came to Compeer four years ago for help.

“Four years ago I really didn't have a lot of friends in school — I was made fun of,” replied Diaz. “I woke up happy but when I went to school sometimes it would just bring me down when I got home."

Nikko Diaz & Mitch Holler.

At Compeer, Nikko was matched with Mitch Holler, a volunteer mentor, says he was in a “low place” four years ago and also needed to focus on his mental health.

“I find my relationship with Nikko, kind of acts as an anchor in my life,” Holler reflected.

Mitch, now 31, says he has no kids and really enjoys spending time with Nikko.

Nikko Diaz & Mitch Holler.

“Nikko allows me to see — different opportunities and paths, so just his youth and the experiences helps give me perspective,” Holler noted.

“Having Mitch around has really helped and just being able to talk to him helped me,” Diaz described.

Nikko doesn't have a dad in his life and says Mitch helps fill that void.

Mitch & Nikko head out of Compeer together.

Mitch and Nikko found a common bond, they both like rap music.

“We trade music and stuff a lot so that's always fun and really just the different perspective,” Holler replied.

Nikko Diaz, 13 & Compeer mentor Mitch Holler.

“Maybe I would have been in a darker place or I would have grown, but it's been just obviously a booster and a help,” Diaz explained.

Friday, October 28 Compeer will be hosting a virtual information event for anyone interested in volunteering.

Nikko and Mitch say they expect to remain friends for the rest of their lives.