Mental health advocacy group hosts benefit


The UNI chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) will host their annual charitable art benefit in the Maucker Union Ballroom on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m.

There will be a silent auction of pieces created by TWLOHA group members, UNI students and community members from the Cedar Valley and out of state. All the proceeds go to the Covenant Clinic Psychiatry youth in-patient unit. Donating to this cause helps TWLOHA in their mission to provide support for people struggling with their mental health.

“I want people to know that there are a lot of people on campus who care about mental health,” said TWLOHA-UNI president Becca McDowell, a senior majoring in social work. “I know that a lot of people do, but they can’t necessarily find each other and let them know that they’re supported and that there are other people on this campus who care about them even if they don’t know it.”

This will be TWLOHA’s second year benefiting Covenant Clinic. The year before, the proceeds from the auction went to Black Hawk-Grundy Mental Health Center.

According McDowell, the typical stay at Covenant Clinic Psychiatry’s youth in-patient unit lasts for a week at the most.

“Basically, it’s their crisis intervention and getting them to the place where they feel safe and know they’re support[ed] and then getting them to out-patient,” McDowell said. “They do a lot of good work in terms of the youth in this area.”

While the silent auction is taking place, there will be entertainment provided by the SingPins, as well as a new local band called Brooklyn Brain.

The evening will also include an open mic portion where audience members are encouraged to recite poetry, sing, share their stories or anything else they would like. Cookies and other refreshments will also be served.

The benefit is TWLOHA’s biggest event of the spring semester. They host a 5K every fall, but the group is active throughout the year by holding weekly meetings in the Presidential Room of Maucker Union on Tuesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. The group does different activities each night, such as painting canvases to donate to the art benefit.

“We work on different coping skills,” McDowell said. “We talk about different mental health disorders. We do certain things like ‘share your story’ nights, so if people want to talk about their past, they can, and it remains as confidential as we can be. Basically, we’re there to be a safe space for everybody.”

Last year, the benefit raised around $250. McDowell hopes TWLOHA can surpass that number this year. The starting bids will all be relatively affordable, with none being more than $10.