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This article was published 16/10/2011 (2134 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Terry Broza was just a teenager when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. For years, he coped by attending hospital programming and with the support of his mother. Sadly, when his mother died in 2005, that support was lost, and consequently, so was Broza.
Broza knew he needed to do something more, so when a friend suggested he look into the programming offered by the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, he decided it was worth a try. Broza signed up for the agency's drama program.
"I did because I wanted to be more in recovery than what I was," explained Broza, a 41-year-old Norwood resident. "Being involved with just the hospital was not working very well. There needed to be something more in my life -- I was taking my meds and attending (the hospital programming) but I wanted to feel better. It's not about taking your medicine and seeing your doctor and eating right and getting enough sleep, it's about doing something."
Little did Broza know that taking that first step would change his life. While attending the drama program, he started offering help to the schizophrenia society staff, assisting with administrative tasks.
Public education co-ordinator Jane Burpee took notice and asked him to become a volunteer with the Hearing Voices workshops offered by the agency.
The 21/2-hour workshops allow participants to experience what life is like for a person living with schizophrenia. Broza both facilitates some of the workshop activities and shares his story with the participants, a range of professionals and non-professionals such as nursing and occupational therapy students, paramedics, police and social workers. Since 2005, he has assisted with more than 300 of the workshops, impacting more than 6,000 people, in addition to volunteering his time to other schizophrenia society initiatives.
"I finally got that feeling of satisfaction that I was looking for. I've gotten one step closer to having the quality life that I think we all kind of strive for," Broza said proudly. "Whether it's just doing chores around the house, if it's volunteering or working or going to school, I think being well with mental illness is about doing something. It's about having a life that makes you happy."
In appreciation for his dedication and contribution, Broza received the Schizophrenia Society of Canada's Recovery of Hope Award at a gala held in Regina earlier this year.
While it was an honour to receive the award, it's the everyday benefits he gets from volunteering that make it so satisfying and important, Broza said. Not only has he become more confident, but volunteering has also taught him workplace skills. His new goal is to enter the workforce, a prospect he once found daunting and frightening.
"I wasn't even looking to receive an award. I was just (volunteering) to make my recovery less of a dream and more real. One of my goals now is to go back to school because this volunteering has helped me realize that I can work.
"For many years I didn't think I could work. I thought I was just going to be on pills and just going to groups and stuff like that," said Broza, who has applied for funding to attend Red River College's administrative assistant program.
For others living with schizophrenia, Broza encourages them to find out how the schizophrenia society can help them, too.
"It's really difficult. Schizophrenia affects people in all different ways. Some people have it more severe. We are all here together equally, but for those people who are looking for something more, I would tell them to just come down and visit for a while to try it. These people understand us and they sympathize with what we're going through and they encourage us to go after whatever we want," he said.
If you would like more information about the programming and volunteer opportunities offered by the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, please call 204-786-1616 or email firstname.lastname@example.org You can also learn more online at www.mss.mb.ca
If you know a special volunteer who strives to make his or her community a better place to live, please contact Erin Madden at email@example.com