IN THE NEWS: Richard Dreyfuss addresses stigma of mental illness
Feb 27, 2013
Richard Dreyfuss spoke to a crowd of over 400 people at a fundraiser aimed at breaking the stigma of mental illness. His speech was part of the inaugural Reflections of Hope Luncheon which was hosted by the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service and benefited the Welcome Home program.
The Welcome Home program began in 2003 and the organization's campus is located at the Weisman Delray Community Center. The program provides adults who are recovering from mental illness with counseling, job readiness training and life skills at no cost to the recipient.
Dreyfuss, Academy Award winner and keynote speaker addressed the crowd detailing his personal experiences with mental illness. "I spoke so much about being a manic-depressive. I want to bring everyone back to my earliest memories of this companion of mine. Some people call this companion I have an ailment, or worse a terrible nightmare from which some people cannot awaken. I know that I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have nothing that should garner a stigma."
Dreyfuss added, "The world may look down upon people like me, and say there is no escape, no light and hope for people like me. I want people to be able to learn something from my experiences. I have had crazy ideas. I have more fun and more grand and glorious moments of my life than anyone I've never known. I know that some people call that manic-depress, and that other people call that being touched by God. I just call myself lucky."
The luncheon took place at the Boca West Country Club.
Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service plans to continue to hold this fundraiser annually.
"Our program offers a free drop in center for adults living with mental illness. Our program provides social workers, social interaction, along with various types of therapy. This center helps individuals achieve goals and live their lives to the fullest," said Ruth Rales President and CEO Danielle Hartman.
Nancy Schiller, co-chair of the luncheon commented on the success of the event. "The reason for this all was so powerful and so important to so many people that it was completely sold out in advance. My husband and I are so grateful for this program. It has helped us get our daughter back into our lives. This is a great day for our organization. I am very proud of myself and the Welcome Home program."
Also present at the luncheon was Schiller's daughter Lori Jo Schiller, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia more than 25 years ago. She addressed the crowd. "I am the one who the doctors said to my parents there is no hope. When my symptoms first appeared I thought that I was possessed. I would be hospitalized in and out, but thankfully due new medications I have been out of the hospital since 1989. There is always hope and with hope comes miracles."
Lori Jo Schiller is the author of the book "The Quiet Room" which was published in 1996. The book details her life as she went from being a college graduate to a woman living with schizophrenia, who would attempt suicide and require hospitalization. She told the crowd of her success in overcoming her battle with schizophrenia.
Her novel has been translated into nine languages and she has appeared on 60 minutes to discuss her experiences in writing a novel on the topic of schizophrenia. She is currently working as a peer specialist and advocate for the mentally ill.
For more information on the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Services Welcome Home program, visit the organization's website at www.ruthralesjfs.org.