Passionate, creative, and absolutely dedicated, the members of the BCITMA Community Relations are committed to meaningfully and positively impacting the world around us. This passion to make a difference in their community brought them to BCSS Foundation in November 2020 when they came on board to help the BCSS foundation with our annual fundraising run. Needless to say, the campaign was a success! 

This year, the BCITMA Community Relations team joins us again with fresh faces from both the first- and second-year cohorts for the BMO RUN$HOPE. Anja is one of the new members of the BCIT team. Here’s what she says about her journey with the BCSS Foundation:

By joining the BCITMA this year, I was thrilled to take on a new opportunity by growing closely involved with the BCSS Foundation. I was able to take a deeper dive into more research about how individuals are affected by schizophrenia. The BCSS Foundation provides immense help to families affected by schizophrenia and mental illnesses, which encouraged me to learn how I can help my loved ones. Over the years, I have become closer to many family and friends affected by mental illnesses who truly deserve supportive direction, but struggle to find the exact help they need. As supportive as I felt I was, it was never enough to get through to my loved ones as much as I had hoped. 

I have been learning from BCSS for the past three months and have only grown more curious about how I can provide support to my family and friends affected by severe mental illnesses. I’m so thankful I was led to BCSS by the BCITMA because I gravitated towards supporting individuals in more effective ways. Throughout the last few months of volunteering with BCSS, I’ve gained more knowledge of how individuals are affected each day – along with how I can be an even more supportive shoulder to lean on. 

All help available from BCSS and other organizations that support mental illnesses, brings me closer to my affected family members. BCSS offers information and programs on how to be a more supportive family member, which anyone can take into consideration. Being a part of the BCITMA has encouraged me to do more research about schizophrenia, mental illnesses, and why to participate in the annual BCSS Walk/Run. Along with this, I will highly encourage others to participate with me and understand the considerate impact they are making. Often, I felt lost in what else I could do for my family members. I now understand that I can participate in a variety of ways to show my recognition for affected individuals. With the annual BCSS Walk/Run coming up soon, I have been gaining great experience with the BCSS Foundation. 

I have always loved hearing people’s stories. By reading the Stories from BCSS Families, I was able to have a better insight, and relate to how families cope with a loved one affected by mental illnesses. The heartfelt stories have motivated me to take more action to help, and provide support where I can. With my BCITMA team, we’ve learned collectively as we get closer to the annual BCSS Walk/Run taking place this May, 2022. I was unaware of the variety of ways of contributing to organizations that help individuals affected by mental illnesses – now I’m going to connect with affected individuals in more impactful ways. 

When days get tough between my family members, I feel empathy towards their situations, but in the past, I felt my support was never enough. As I’ve helped family members who are greatly affected by mental illnesses, BCSS allowed me learned more about the impactful communities and resources available. I think BCSS has created a strong and supportive community, which is crucial when seeking help. I am thankful to know more about the programs held at BCSS that can help the affected families.