HOLSTEIN - Galva-Holstein High School teachers John Miller, Butch Faulkenberry, Mary Todd and Susan Kalin work with a student leadership group called MVP, which stands for "Mentors in Violence Prevention."
Members of the group are selected by their peers as leaders, and members focus on activities to create a better school climate and community, as well as developing their leadership skills.
This year, each member of MVP was challenged to create a service project of their own to lead. Natalie Waller came across the web-site www.twloha.com and the group jumped on board with the activity she recommended.
TWLOHA stands for "to write love on her arms," and it is an online community on the social networking networking site MySpace. Its goal is to provide a safe place for teens and young adults to share their problems and find help dealing with depression and/or alcohol and other substance abuse, and grew out of one young woman's struggle to overcome addiction and the friends who reached out to help her.
The vision of TWLOHA is that they believe these things: "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."
"If you decide to write the word "love" on your arm today, please remember the heart of the matter. The goals were never "cute" or "fashion." Our title, "to write love on her arms," was born as a goal and it remains a goal. We're inviting people to fight for their lives and for the lives of their friends. We're inviting people to believe better things.
"If you want to help us spread the word about hope and help, we would be honored. If you want to tell people that they need other people, that every story matters - again, we would be honored. We say these things because we believe them to be true, and because too many people live alone under other lies.
"Let's continue to fight to figure out what this word "love" means. Let's aim for how it looks and how it sounds - maybe something like humility and confidence and kindness, maybe honesty and compassion."
This TWLOHA Day activity is the one in which Natalie Waller and her friends in MVP decided to participate on November 13, during lunchtime in the Commons area at the Galva-Holstein High School.
TWLOHA is a non-profit corporation, a registered 501 (c)(3) organization. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to: TWLOHA; PO Box 206; Cocoa, FL 32923,
or you can donate online using the "Donate: Be the Movement" button on the main page of the TWLOHA website.
TWLOHA gives a portion of proceeds directly to the treatment and recovery programs of the following organizations : National Hopeline Network (1-800-Suicide) , www.hopeline.com; Teen Challenge - www.teenchallengeusa.com; S.A.F.E. (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) - www.selfinjury.com / 1-800-Dont-cut; Kids Help Line (Australia) - www.kidshelp.com.au / 1-800-55-1800; and two organizations in India - Apne Aap , www.apneaap.org and Sanlaap - www.sanlaapindia.org
Since 2006, TWLOHA has given nearly $500,000 to treatment and recovery.
Beyond donating to treatment and recovery, however, TWLOHA believes that all the work they do is uniquely important. They value prevention, awareness, and communication. They only have a small staff that includes part-time help who respond to messages and emails everyday, and that is the heart of what they do - being in a place to encourage people who are hurting. In so many cases, those are folks talking about these issues, sharing their struggles, asking for help - for the very first time. TWLOHA staff feel that it is a privilege that they get to respond to those messages.