What started as an effort to help a friend has quickly transformed into an effort to help thousands-wherever they may be.
Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love On Her Arms, will be speaking at Kutztown University on March 31 beginnng at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.
TWLOHA is a non-profit movement which exists to present hope and encouragement to those struggling with such things as depression, addiction and suicide. The events typically open with music by a selected musician, transitions into the speaker’s segment and will conclude with Question-and-Answer.
“The Q-and-A, that’s the highlight—it’s more of a conversation,” said Tworkowski. “We’ve done a lot of these events—the vulnerability still surprises me. The events have a cool way of giving permission to be honest.”
Tworkowski explains that they choose to open with music because music offers the “ability to be honest,” and helps to provide the right atmosphere for honesty and open sharing—which is the goal. The non-profit has developed relationships with various musicians, offering mutually beneficial support.
He also says these events have become one of his favorite parts of the non-profit. He describes it as a privilege to talk about these things that aren’t typically discussed and he feels privileged that people want to be a part of the conversations.
According to a recent release, since its launch in 2006, the non-profit has donated more than $1,200,000 towards treatment and recovery efforts, and has answered more than 170,000 emails from more than 100 countries.
“We’ve been trying to keep up ever since,” says Tworkowski. “I get invited to tell our story because it was a surprise.”
Tworkowski says this all began through his attempt to help a friend who was struggling with various issues. Working as a sales representative at the time, he tried to raise money for his friend’s treatment.
“I learned that so many people around the world could relate to her situation,” said Tworkowski, referring to his friend. “We found ourselves in a unique situation of hope.”
He says the ultimate goal is to move people, and to let them know it’s okay to be honest and get help.
“Initially, this was not intended as a charity. It was just an attempt to tell a story. It was a surprise, an accident. We realized the potential to talk about these things on a large scale,” he said, adding that it was harder in the beginning because it was just him. “Now it’s more organized--the weight falls on the group. We’re in a great place when it comes to that.”
There are currently 15 people on staff in addition to about six interns at any given time. Interns come from all over; they train, live and work together. The interns continue the work of steady correspondence with the public.
TWLOHA receives invitations to speak at a variety of settings, and Tworkowski says they like to say yes to different types—though he admits the college setting is his favorite.
“These issues live everywhere—we want to go where people are,” said the founder.
Melbourne, Fla., where Tworkowski and several of the first members are from, is the home of TWOHA. “It’s surprising to people—not a place that many people have heard of,” said Tworkowski, owning a sense of pride. “Hopefully it’s inspiring to people who live in a small town—you don’t have to live in New York City of Los Angeles to do something meaningful.”
TWLOHA recently stated that is has one of the largest online audiences of any non-profit on both MySpace and Facebook.