October 23, 2012

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 83, Issue 1

Spotlight on Clubs: TWLOHA -- TWLOHA offers hope and healing

by Bara Dweik

Officers (from left to right) of NU’s TWLOHA club are Secretary Sam Curtiss, President Crystal Lorenzo, Treasurer Amanda Hurst, and Vice President Rochelle Robinson. (photo by Sean Farber)

Officers (from left to right) of NU’s TWLOHA club are Secretary Sam Curtiss, President Crystal Lorenzo, Treasurer Amanda Hurst, and Vice President Rochelle Robinson. (photo by Sean Farber)

   The mission of To Write Love on Her Arms is to present hope and to find help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA is present today in order to encourage, inform, inspire, raise funds and direct those in need into treatment and recovery.
   TWLOHA's vision is to have everyone in the club, from organizers to members actually believe:

'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.
'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.  TWLOHA knows that pain is very real and thus, TWLOHA also suggests 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.  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.  TWLOHA knows that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take.  Thus, TWLOHA says that it's worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it's possible to change.
'Beyond treatment, TWLOHA believes that community is essential, that people need other people, and 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 happier 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.
'NU's TWLOHA spreads its message every day that we are not alone, and that this is not the end of our story.
The story behind 'To Write Love On Her Arms'

    TWLOHA was created in response to the tragic behavior of a victim but also from the realization that anyone can rise above adversity, to persevere, and to conquer.  The club was born to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless out there.
    This non-for-profit organization began as an attempt to tell a story and as a way to help a friend in the spring of 2006.
    As the founders of TWLOHA stated on their website, The story's title ˜To Write Love on Her Arms' was also a goal, believing that a better life was possible.  We started selling T-shirts as a way to pay for our friend's treatment, and we made a MySpace page to give the whole thing a home. Our friends in Switchfoot and Anberlin were among the first to wear these shirts.  In the days that followed, we learned quickly that the story we were telling represented people everywhere.  We began to hear from people in need of help, and others asking what they could do to help their friends. We heard from people who had lost loved ones to suicide.  Many said that these were questions they had never asked and parts of their story that they had never shared.  Others were honest in a different way, confessing these were issues they knew little or nothing about.  It seemed we had stumbled upon a bigger story, and a conversation that needed to be had.
    Since 2006 and over the years that followed, the original founders of TWLOHA responded to 170,000 messages from people in 100 different countries. They have had the opportunity to spread a message of hope and help, to places ranging from concerts, universities, festivals and even churches.  TWLOHA educated many all over the world that these are not American issues, not white issues or emo issues.  These are issues that affect humanity; they are problems of pain that affect millions of people around the world.
    And in line with all of this, NU's TWLOHA chapter educates everyday and tells everyone in the Suicide Awareness Week that two out of three people who struggle with depression never seek help and never tell anyone, and that untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide. In America alone, an estimate of 19 million people lives with depression struggling with it every day.
    TWLOHA raises awareness to all those who are struggling out there that depression is very treatable and that a real hope exists to face these issues. And TWLOHA also continues to remind people that they are not alone.


Message from Crystal Lorenzo, President of TWLOHA at NU

    TWLOHA NU is a club, which exists to present hope for students struggling with depression, self-injury, addiction and suicide. We also hope to connect students to resources to help them work through these issues. We strive to encourage, inspire, inform and educate people about different mental illnesses and we hope to break down the stigmas associated with mental illness and treatment (i.e. counseling, rehab, etc.)
    We want to create a community of hope at Niagara and let people know that there are places they can turn to in times of darkness, and that there are people who care and know that it's OK to not be OK. So far we have had great interest in the group. About 170 people have shown interest, and although meeting attendance has not been close to that, we have consistently had around 30 people at each meeting, which we view as a huge success seeing as we just started last semester.
    I think the little successes are really important to note, such as messages from people letting us know that we are doing something to help them, and that we have given them hope. That means so much to hear that something we are doing is helping someone hang on, and not give up on hope and help.
    We are also planning on doing a Black Flag Event towards the end of October, where black flags are set up on an area of campus and each flag will represent a college student who dies by suicide each year. This event has been extremely impactful on other campuses around the country, and we are hoping will draw a lot of attention to the importance of honesty, counseling, and mental health awareness/education on campus.

NU TWLOHA Officers

President: Crystal Lorenzo
Vice President: Rochelle Robinson
Secretary: Sam Curtiss
Treasurer: Amanda Hurst


As of Monday, Oct. 1, NU's chapter of TWLOHA has been officially recognized by TWLOHA National.

October Events

Poetry Open Mic Night
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 at 7 p.m. in Gallagher Center

National Mental health awareness week “ organized by NU Poetry Club and TWLOHA
Oct. 7-13 “ There are several TWLOHA events during this week.

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