‘To Write Love On Her Arms,’ one festival at a time.

June 27, 2018

‘To Write Love On Her Arms,’ one festival at a time.


By Ross Field, Contributing Writer.

ROTHBURY — Located between the Electric Forest Festival’s vast campgrounds and its main entrance to the concert grounds, Main Street is a two-block-long row of food vendors, clothing, jewelry, and craft shops that appears to be much more like the fictional Diagon Alley of Harry Potter lore than any commercial center in West Michigan.

At the west end of this colorful market place, a calm presence hangs over the booth maintained by To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), an organization dedicated to connecting people struggling with depression, drug abuse, and suicidal thoughts with treatment and sources of professional help.

TWLOHA is a non-profit movement founded in 2006 that is dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. And it began with a simple story, the story of the five days Jamie Tworkowski spent with his friend, Renee Yohe, before she entered a treatment program.

“We exist to present hope and find help for anyone struggling with depression, self-injury, and suicide,” said Chad Moses, on-site manager for TWLOHA at the Electric Forest. “And, the organization began essentially by accident. Originally it was all about helping our friend and telling her story.”

“The name, To Write Love On Her Arms, was literally the name of a story written about our friend, Renee,” said Moses. “The story was put on My Space and it really grew from there as people got curious and stumbled upon it and related to the story.”

Since 2006, TWLOHA has responded to 200,000 messages from people in over 100 countries around the world; travelled more than 3.3 million miles to meet people in their communities; and shared over 1,000 blog posts from contributors sharing their experience with others in pain. TWLOHA has also donated $2 million to treatment, recovery and counseling practices.

The manager’s story has parallels to that of Renee’s, having dealt with his own battles as a college student at the University of Virginia.

“I was able to navigate those valleys with the help of some friends that loved me,” said Moses, “despite all the reasons I was giving them not to. As I was taking steps in my recovery I learned about TWLOHA.”

Moses continues, “So, when I found out about TWLOHA, I was just about to graduate from college and thought, man, if I’m going to be working for the rest of my life, I want to feel like I made an impact. So I moved down to Florida 10 days after graduating to intern, and I never left.”

TWLOHA also has a booth in the festival grounds between the Tripolee and Ranch Arena stages, and they plan on offering their hope to others for many more years at the Electric Forest.

“This is our third Electric Forest,” said Moses. “I was telling my intern that this festival has one of the most contagious cultures of any place I’ve worked in. Over 10 years, this is my 165th festival working for TWLOHA, and there’s nothing quite like this festival. We want to be at places like Electric Forest that bring a diverse group of people together from all across the country, from all walks of life, from all over the LBGT spectrum, the music spectrum, and all ages.”

Late Sunday afternoon of Weekend I, Moses was putting the finishing touches on TWLOHA’s Barrier Project, a large, multi-hued wall on which people have been encouraged to write words and phrases that represent a sense of separation.

“At the end of the week we dismantle the wall, piece by piece,” said Moses. “We then invite the Foresters to take a tile home to serve as a reminder that the barriers in our lives can, should, and will fall. When these walls come down, there will be plenty of space for us to build a better tomorrow together.”

More information on the organization can be found at twloha.com.

This story is copyrighted © 2018, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.



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