Just recently MUSE talked with Elizabeth Wilder of To Write Love On Her Arms, a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.
Elizabeth Wilder: I am Elizabeth Wilder, I am the event and music coordinator at “To Write Love on Her Arms”. It is a mental health nonprofit dedicated to present hope and finding help for people struggling with things like addiction, depression, self injury and suicide.
Michael Sandoval: You were on the Warped Tour this summer, and you spread your message to many of the kids who were there. What was the reception like? Because after Chester Bennington committing suicide, it touched a lot of people in that generation.
EW: It was definitely an interesting feeling being at Warped Tour when that news started to spread. It kind of felt like the non-profits and the vendors were the first people to find out and it was such a wild feeling knowing that those people at this particular festival, that Lincoln Park’s Chester Bennington had touched them in some way, so it was an interesting feeling getting to experience the immediate response from that news. We got an influx of people coming to our booth saying they didn’t understand or they were confused or even “we’re just happy to see that you’re here”. It was very special and unique connection that day for sure.
MS: Even though, unfortunately, it was his passing, it does seem to bring light to the issue and hopefully you were able to see that with a lot of the kids that it really gave them an outlet to come to you and talk to you at the Warped Tour.
EW: It’s always terrible to say, but these conversations do stem from these kinds of events. They need this outlet, it’s sad under these circumstances, but sometimes it happens.
MS: Yeah, exactly. So how did the charity begin and what was the start from day one?
EW: It all started with our friend Renee. She was struggling with the things we talked about, addiction, depression, self injury and suicide ideation. She wanted to enter her treatment and she couldn’t at the time because she still had fresh wounds and so our friend Jamie kind of took her underneath his wing, along with our friend David, and they went through a detox stage with her. So they spent five days with her in community, taking her to music shows, readings and spending time with her in community before she ends her treatment. And she couldn’t pay for her treatment, so Jamie decided to make a t-shirt that said “to write love on her arms” to try and sell and pay for these treatments. We say that it was an overnight thing, and that’s not an exaggeration. He posted the original story on MySpace, and overnight people were relating and saying “that’s me” or “that’s my mom” and “that’s my sisters story” and were able to connect in that way, so that’s how we got our start.
MS: That’s an amazing story, to hear somebody overcome that is an awesome story to hear. How much help have you been able to give to people in your community? Have people gotten in touch with you to get help?
EW: Yeah, we are based in Florida but we’ve been traveling non-stop to different cities, schools and churches. It’s very interesting to see the impact that we can have on a community. We provide counseling sessions to over ninety people a month, so I think that’s cool to watch that. We have an info account, and answer every single message so if you’re someone who’s struggling, or know someone who is struggling and looking for resources or encouragement, we’re sitting there answering those every single day. It’s humbling that these people trust us with their stories and pain. We can only hope they walk away feeling some sort of hope.
MS: How do you work with other cultures and nationalities?
EW: We are an inclusive organization, we don’t discriminate based on race, gender, age because we feel everyone deserves to feel heard and everyone deserves to be able to feel comfortable enough to say they need help. It’s heartbreaking when certain races or genders feel they can’t get that help, we are here to say “come as you are” because everyone deserves to feel they can keep going.
MS: Since you did the Warped Tour, and are going to the High-Low Festival, in about a week here in San Bernardino, how many of the bands have you been able to pull together and be a sponsor and voice for your organization
EW: It’s been eleven years now, we’ve made a lot of connections with different people, like Switchfoot, Haley from Paramore has worn our shirt, being on Warped Tour is a special and unique circumstance because you’re with these people and bands for two months, so you have time to grow a relationship and grow this connection because you’re going to find people who have struggled with the things we’ve talked about, including the bands. So it’s nice to be able to make those connections and we feel so honored when they decide to wear our t-shirt or tweet about us. But we’ve grown those relationships over tihttps://www.musetv.net/wp-admin/profile.phpme, it doesn’t happen overnight. Music has always been a huge part of our story and it will continue to be.
MS: If anybody is looking for help from your organization, how can they get in touch with you?
EW: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, every message will be answered. We like to act as a bridge to that hope and help.
Since November is MUSE give back month if you would like to donate please visit the their donation page at https://twloha.com/donate/ or via our Facebook Fundraising Campaign at https://www.facebook.com/donate/735887063269422/.