In the previous weeks, Rob Biesenbach came to the class and talked to us about his career in business and the role storytelling has played within his career. I remember him telling the class what makes a good story, such as what elements to include, what elements not to include, how to make the story interesting, and most importantly how to reach your intended audience. Biesenbach noted that one key element of story telling is the use of emotion. Emotion is what enables the audience to relate to the story and become impacted by it. While listening to his presentation, I was reminded of how one of my favorite non-profit organizations uses storytelling in multiple ways that impact many people in more than one way.
To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit organization that works to educate about and offer support for those suffering with addiction, depression, self-injury, eating disorders, and suicide. I have supported this organization since I was in high school. I would say the success of the organization is mostly due to their use of storytelling and allowing many people to tell their stories of their past struggles to relate to the wider audience of similar people who may have struggled through similar things.
In high school I volunteered to run a fundraiser through To Write Love on Her Arms called the Storytellers High School Campaign. In this campaign other volunteers and I did multiple things to try to earn money to donate to the organization mainly through selling merchandise. However the main event was I was most proud of in the entire campaign. The Storytelling Night was where several students volunteered to tell their own stories of struggles they faced in high school. I too was able to tell my own story. Through storytelling we were able to get our story out there. We were able to express our emotions and connect to the audience and in return have the audience connect with us. Our stories were able to inform the audience about the real struggles faced by those struggling with depression, addiction, eating disorders, self-injury, or suicide. Most of all, I would like to believe the telling our stories were a way of healing for us, at least it was for me. It allowed me to not feel so alone with what I was going through.
To Write Love On Her Arms also has other forms of storytelling in order to connect to their wider audience such as having famous people and also normal everyday people share blogs about their personal experiences or the experiences of their loved ones. They also have a large event called Heavy and Light where musicians come to tell their stories and offer support through music and other supporters tell of their personal experiences as well.
As a supporter of To Write Love on Her Arms I have personally felt and seen the community that has been formed through the storytelling this organization offers. In this organization, storytelling is used effectively, most definitely highlighting the emotional aspect of the stories, to educate audiences, connect audiences, and heal audiences letting people know they are not alone. Storytelling is a very powerful thing and its use in this organization if just one piece of evidence how it can make a positive impact.
Get Involved. (2014). Retrieved from http://twloha.com/