To Write Love on Her Arms, a.k.a. TWLOHA, is a nonprofit that aims to provide resources for those struggling with addiction, depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. After its distinctive t-shirts were worn by various alternative rock musicians throughout the 2000s, the organization gained widespread publicity, broadcasting its message of hope and healing to many people in need of it. Just a few of the notable bands that have promoted TWLOHA over the years are Switchfoot, Anberlin, Hawthorne Heights, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, and Memphis May Fire. There are many more.
At the Vans Warped Tour in Columbia, Maryland, we had the chance to catch up with Elizabeth Wilder, a representative of TWLOHA, and talk to her about the organization’s outreach and ties to the alternative music community. Read on to learn about how TWLOHA has tried to help people overcome obstacles in their lives—and remember that if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
TYF: First off, how would you describe TWLOHA to any readers who are unfamiliar with the organization?
Elizabeth Wilder: TWLOHA is a mental health nonprofit dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with things like addiction, depression, self-injury, and suicide.
TYF: What does TWLOHA do specifically to help people dealing with those issues?
Wilder: On the Vans Warped Tour, we have a special resource pamphlet for each stop with resources for that area. We say we’re not the counselors; we’re just the bridge to the help. We also just want to provide this outreach to kids—an open space to talk freely about mental health.
TYF: How did you personally first get involved with the organization?
Wilder: I saw Hayley Williams from Paramore wear a shirt years ago, as a lot of us did, and then last spring, I did their internship. And so I got connected with them that way, and I was hired with them full-time in October.
TYF: What’s an average day like working at the TWLOHA tent?
Wilder: You wake up, you wait for all your equipment to get off of the trunk, and then working the day… You see a lot of supporters who already know about us, which is great. It’s so awesome to hear the stories. You hear “You saved my life” or “I’ve been three months sober because of you,” and it’s so humbling, and we’re so grateful to be out here every year.
TYF: This is TWLOHA’s 11th year at Warped Tour. Can you tell me a little bit about the organization’s history with Warped Tour and the music scene?
Wilder: Well, we’ve been on Warped Tour for 11 years, and we’ve also been an organization for 11 years, so we’ve been on Warped for as long as we’ve been an organization. It started out with Hayley Williams from Paramore [and the members of] Switchfoot wearing our shirts onstage, and over the years we’ve had such a good collaboration with people on Warped Tour. It’s been so great to watch this mental health community grow every year.
TYF: In your opinion, why do you think TWLOHA has been so embraced by the alternative rock community?
Wilder: We like to say music is a safe place at TWLOHA. We strongly believe that mental health and music have such a strong connection, and so us being here as a presence to these kids who are seeing their favorite bands and they’re in a place that they love… We just want to be there for an extra push if they need help or an extra face to say hi to.
TYF: Have you gotten to meet any artists who are supporters of the organization?
Wilder: Yeah! Actually, on tour, we have a collaboration with The Gospel Youth. They play on the Full Sail Stage, and they’ve been wearing our shirts onstage. It’s been awesome to have a mental health conversation with them throughout the tour.
TYF: That’s great. What would you say is the most meaningful experience you’ve had working with TWLOHA so far?
Wilder: It’s definitely hard to pinpoint exactly one. Every story is sacred to us. We have people who come up to us and they have tattoos of the organization’s name, or they have [TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowski]’s book and it has tons of notes and tabs. Every experience is a different experience, and we take each one with such humbleness. We’re just so grateful for the support we have and the impact we’ve been able to make.
TYF: Are there any particularly uplifting stories from this year’s Warped Tour that you’d like to share with our readers?
Wilder: Sure! We had one woman come up to us in Darien, New York. She had just seen her favorite band, whom she hadn’t seen in four years because of an experience she’d had at a concert in the past, and To Write Love helped her through that tough time after that experience. It was neat to kind of come full circle with that. She said that [TWLOHA] had helped a lot with her anxiety and PTSD after the event happened, and it’s kind of like this redemption, her getting to see her favorite band again with the help of TWLOHA.
TYF: That’s awesome. Finally, do you have any messages to leave with any readers who might be struggling with addiction, depression, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts?
Wilder: We just want to say, “Your story is important. We believe that your story is sacred, and it’s one that needs to be told, and it’s one that’s still being written, and we need you here to write it. We’re here for you, and we’re ready to read it.”