Founder of “To Write Love on Her Arms” urges students to reach out about depression, addiction, self-harm

Spencer Baker, Special to The Observer

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The founder of the non-profit group To Write Love On Her Arms reminded an intimate crowd in the SURC Thursday night that everyone has a story worth sharing.

“Your story matters,” Tworkowski said, adding that all the best stories have more than one character.

In 2006, Tworkowski’s roommate at the time had a friend, Renee, who was struggling with drugs and depression and ended up using a razor to cut an offensive word on her arm.

After Tworkowski and his roommate were able to talk Renee into treatment, she agreed to let Tworkowski write her story because they had made such a connection.

“Maybe there can be a purpose for my pain,” she told Tworkowski.

Tworkowski eventually posted the story to MySpace and people started to take notice. He said he started to think, “We can tell more than one story and we can help more than one girl.”

Tworkowski ended up quitting his job with the skate and surf company Hurley to start a new non-profit.

“The job lacked meaning,” he said. He also said he wanted something that was more creative and could help more people.

To this date, he said, people from over 100 countries have written in to the organization with their stories.

“To Write Love On Her Arms” has many musical acts that it works with as it tours the country, reaching out to young people. Tworkowski said he feels it is important to “fill the room with music first thing,” because the power that it has to express feelings.

Noah Gundersen, a singer/songwriter from the Seattle area, started the night with a half-dozen songs.  

“I like to start the night sad, then Jamie can cheer you up,” Gundersen said in between songs.

Justin Bowers, junior music education major, said, “I really liked the show, especially Noah, I really liked his lyrics.”

At the end of his 50-minute talk, Tworkowski left with a reminder of the many positive experiences he’d seen since the group’s founding: “I get to be up here on behalf of thousands of stories that suggest that change is possible.”

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Founder of “To Write Love on Her Arms” urges students to reach out about depression, addiction, self-harm