To Write Love On Her Arms
Written by Victoria Cates, Movement Maker Tribe Editorial Team Member
One man never thought his MySpace post would become an inspiration to so many. The story that he shared changed a life, and since then many others have been saved.
I was able to interview the #Firestarters behind To Write Love On Her Arms and found out what they are truly all about. TWLOHA is a non-profit movement dedicated to fostering hope and finding help for people who are struggling with issues such as depression, anxiety, self-injury, and suicide. They are fired by the desire to encourage, inform, and inspire investment directly into treatment and recovery. You can find some more information that summarizes what they do and why at the learn page on their website.
When Jamie Tworkowski met Renee Yohe, 19, she was struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicidal thoughts. He was just a friend helping out another friend. He decided to do all that he could to help her out and sold t-shirts to help cover the cost of rehab. He knew that this would be her one shot at a better life. Going to rehab had not worked in the past for Renee, but an amazing opportunity presented itself to her. She was able to stay with Jamie for five days before entering a treatment center. Those five days were life changing.
Jamie did not stick to normal rehab. He wanted Renee to enjoy her time and tried to make it as much fun as possible. They attended performances by her favorite musicians, read books and drank lots of coffee. On her last night with Jamie and his friends, they all gathered at church. Many people gathered to pray for Renee. All of the prayers were encouraging and made it abundantly clear that a lot of people were rooting for her.
As everyone was leaving and saying their goodbyes, Renee pulled James off to the side and said she had something to give him. She handed him her last razorblade. The blade that she had used just five nights before to cut her arm. She felt that her last night would be her hardest and that she shouldn’t have it. Jamie knew that moment would always stay with him.
I was able to get an update on Renee’s life since 2006. TWLOHA informed me that she is doing really well, and has been for many years. She’s still living in Florida, and she just had a baby boy. She is still involved with TWLOHA: they sell her hand-made rings on their online store.
To Write Love On Her Arms
Jamie wanted to share Renee’s story with the world. He chose the name “To Write Love On Her Arms” because it represents the goal that a better life is possible. As soon as he posted her story on MySpace, people began messaging him and his friends from all over the world asking for help. In 2007, he officially opened To Write Love On Her Arms in Florida as a non-profit organization. Since 2006, TWLOHA staff have received over 200,000 messages, traveled over 3.3 million miles, and posted more than 1,000 times on social media.
TWLOHA is a bridge to help support people through empathy, encouragement, and resources so that they can take the next step on their journey of recovery, whether by seeing a counselor or opening up to a friend for the first time. For someone who has never heard of TWLOHA, they want you to know that they here for you or anyone you know who might need help, with anything that’s affecting you or your mental or emotional well-being. They have a vision that community, hope, and help will replace secrets and silence and that they can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world. This non-profit wants people to know that they are never alone. There is always hope. You can also click their Find Help tool, so they can find you reduced-cost or free services that are available in their area. They believe in the value of counseling and professional support.
Running With A Purpose
The two biggest events that they put on are their Run For It 5K and Heavy and Light. The 5K slogan for this year was “There is a boldness in your breathing.” They typically get over 600 local runners in Florida and hundreds more who run virtually from every state in America, as well as internationally. People share what they’re running for by using their response cards. The reasons often relate to their own mental health journey, or of someone they’re close to.
Heavy and Light is an annual night of songs, conversation, and hope. It’s a space where people can come to both share and hear honest stories about the things they experience and struggle with in life. TWLOHA is present at a lot of events, especially music festivals.
They also do supporter benefits. These are typically one-off events and have been anything from bake sales to music performances. It’s really up to the creativity of the individual and what they think their local community will engage with. Individuals could also regularly support them through joining TWLOHA Blue membership program or choosing them as their beneficiary of Amazon Smile. They also do partnerships with brands and businesses.
The easiest way for someone to get involved is to wear their merchandise. The shirts and other items that they sell are designed to encourage people and to start conversations about hope and mental health with all sorts of people. TWLOHA is giving all of you #Firestarters 10% off your entire purchase, one use per account, by using the code MovementMaker10.
About the author: Victoria Cates is a student at LSU who hails from Lake Charles, Louisiana. Tori as she is called by friends, hopes to become a public relations professional upon graduation and loves writing for #MovementMakerTribe. She spends her time doing philanthropic work as a part of her sorority, Chi Omega.
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