Saturday, January 15, 2011
TWLOHA~ An Organization Article by Abby Massung
(To Write Love On Her Arms)
What I Found Out…
When I first chose to write about TWLOHA I honestly thought I knew quite a bit about the organization. However, after surfing through their website and various social networking sites’ pages, I realized that I really knew very little about this amazing organization.
As I read their vision statement and how they got started, I learned about a beautiful group of people who truly proved themselves and their love and devotion for their friend, Renee. What I once thought was simply a group of people trying to raise awareness about cutting, suddenly turned into a group of friends fighting to save the life of a broken friend.
I barely scratched the surface of what the TWLOHA website had to offer me, but I can honestly say that what I did read took my breath away and brought me to tears at the same time. It wasn’t just the incredible stories or the obvious love that the members of TWLOHA had for hurting people, it was something more too. The statistics they were listing weren’t about people far away I didn’t know -disconnected from me, my family, and my friends- they were much more. Why? Because I know some of the 2-out-of-3 teens who struggle with depression who aren’t seeking treatment; in fact, I can think of at least 3 right now. I’ve seen firsthand how drugs have affected the family of a friend. My oldest sister struggled with suicidal thoughts for years. I myself am one of the 4% of the population who struggles with self-injury. The people who TWLOHA are helping aren’t just living on the other side of the world; they’re our next door neighbors, our friends, and even our family members.
How They Got Started…
TWLOHA got started in the least likely of ways. No one had some huge grand plan to save the lives of hundreds of lost and hurting people or just randomly thought “hey, lets put ‘to write love on her arms’ on a t-shirt and see if we can get someone to buy it!”.
In 2006, it started out with just a group of friends trying to tell the story of and help a friend. In no time, they were selling t-shirts to help pay for their friend’s treatment, and starting up a myspace page to tell the story.
After that, they began learning just how many other people out there had similar stories and could relate to their friend’s struggle. They began receiving messages from people telling about the struggles they and their friends faced, others who were looking for help, and still more people admitting to knowing very little about the issues TWLOHA brought to the light.
What They’re Doing Today…
Today, TWLOHA holds conferences and speaks at various places not only in the USA, but in other parts of the world as well. They reach out to those struggling with addictions, self-harm, depression, and suicide in an attempt to show them they’re not alone, that there is still hope for them, that they can turn their lives around, and that they are loved.
Their vision may seem simple enough, but it packs a pretty powerful punch at the same time. Finding myself incapable of trying to reword it and still have even a fraction of the same meaning, I decided to offer you a direct quote describing their mission from off of their website instead:
“The vision is that we actually believe these things…
You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you're part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.
We live in a difficult world, a broken world. My friend Byron is very smart - he says that life is hard for most people most of the time. We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know that you're not alone in the places you feel stuck.
We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know that pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real.
You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption. We're seeing it happen. We're seeing lives change as people get the help they need. People sitting across from a counselor for the first time. People stepping into treatment. In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline. We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take. We want to say here that it's worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it's possible to change.
Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.
The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.
The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.
The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.
The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.
The vision is better endings. The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships. The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise. The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change. The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.
The vision is the possibility that we're more loved than we'll ever know.
The vision is hope, and hope is real.
You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.”
-TWLOHA Vision statement as viewed on TWLOHA.com
How We Can Make Their Mission Our Own…
To my surprise, I learned that TWLOHA really leaves the door wide open for the rest of us to be a part of their mission. Unlike with some other groups and organizations out there, you can truly become part of their team. Here are some ways we can help out:
1. The Street Team: You can join the TWLOHA street team by going to twloha.com or by going to fancorps.com and searching “TWLOHA”. Through joining, you’ll be able to help support TWLOHA and be apart of the TWLOHA movement in your own part of the world. You’ll be able to perform various tasks to earn activity points and store credit to receive free merchandise from the TWLOHA store. Also, you can communicate with other members through the online forum and membership groups. Finally, it’s a great way to get exclusive TWLOHA info such as chats with the team, opportunities to volunteer, behind the scenes videos, and even a street team t-shirt.
2. Purchasing Merchandise: You can buy t-shirts and other things from the TWLOHA web store as well as Hot Topic, Zumiez, and Ron Jons. This not only supports the organization, but also spreads the TWLOHA story, sparks up conversations, and may even lead someone to seek help with their own personal struggles.
3. Goodsearch.com: By using good search, a yahoo powered search engine, you can choose to have half of the advertising revenue they make from your searches (about a penny per search) donated to the charity of your choice (TWLOHA) for whenever you use their search engine. I haven’t yet used it myself (yet be the highly operative word), but I would suggest checking it out and at least trying to use it as a secondary search engine now and then if nothing else.
4. Social Networks: You can find and follow/friend TWLOHA on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Myspace.
5. Donating to TWLOHA: You can also support them by sending cash, checks, and/or money orders to:
P.O. Box 206
Cocoa, FL 32923
6. Benefits & Fundraisers: You can have a benefit or fundraiser for TWLOHA by doing a fashion show, penny drive, 5k walk, concert, or whatever you want to raise money for them. Simply email: firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know what you want to do so that they can help with the planning process, or ask them for ideas of what you could do. I can guarantee that they’ll be more than happy to offer ideas for a benefit that you could do and help you out with promotions and etc. (be wary if you live in a hundred mile radius of them though, cause they might show up on your doorstep with a pizza one night to have a planning party. Just kidding…I think).
I would also strongly recommend checking out the “move” portion of the TWLOHA website to see the rest of the many other different ways that you can offer them support.
I wish I could offer a better picture of TWLOHA to you, but time (and my extremely patient boss who’s probably about ready to kill a certain procrastinator) limits me from being able to research and write everything I’d like to about the awesome TWLOHA team. Therefore, I’d like to suggest that you invest some of your spare time in doing a bit of your own research about the organization for yourself. I can promise that it’s definitely worth your time and that they won’t disappoint you.
sidenote: check out the music that they have up on their site and pages. I can't help but be attracted to the music wherever I go, and I found several new favourites among the songs on their playlist.