Hope N’ Mic Night: Entertainment and inspiration

Student support group uses live music to spread a message of hope


Christian Palmieri plays guitar alongside fellow members of the local band Diamond Aces. Joshua Stoughton | Contributing Writer

Joshua Stoughton, Contributing Writer

On Friday, March 4, FAU’s chapter of the national organization To Write Love on Her Arms held Hope ‘N’ Mic Night, an event featuring live music and free food. The purpose was to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide an outlet for creative expression.

“The organization is all about connecting people to resources to help them get the help that they need, and also to spread hope,” said Andrew Archibald, chapter president and sophomore social work major.

The event, scheduled for 7 to 10 p.m., continued past midnight on the second floor of Heritage Park Towers North. For the first few hours, there were seven people in the room talking, laughing and casually strumming guitars, but by 9 p.m., more than 20 people had shown up.

This was the chapter’s first official event on campus. It holds weekly meetings every Monday at 4 p.m. in the Student Union and plans to organize a larger event in the future.

“Music has the power to bring people together. It can motivate and help start conversations,” said Archibald.  

Chapter president Andrew Archibald playing guitar while wearing a T-shirt that bears the organization’s name. Joshua Stoughton | Contributing Writer
Chapter president Andrew Archibald plays guitar while wearing a T-shirt that bears the organization’s name. Joshua Stoughton | Contributing Writer

Christian Palmieri, former biology major at FAU, is a member of the band Diamond Aces, which performed at the event. The group played several songs, including a cover of “The Kid’s Aren’t Alright” by The Offspring, which addresses issues of drug addiction, overdose and suicide.

Kristyn Spatz, sophomore elementary education major, is a vocalist for the local band Newfound Line. She was the only member who came to the event, but she sang multiple songs while playing the guitar, including her original song “Letting Go” and a cover of “Face Down” by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, which addresses the issue of domestic violence.

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Kristyn Spatz plays her song “Letting Go,” which is available on Soundcloud. Joshua Stoughton |Contributing Writer

Archibald explained how To Write Love on Her Arm uses music as a vehicle to help convey a message of hope and let people express themselves. Its motto is, “Hope is real. Help is real.”

Coral Undzis, junior English major and the club’s historian, included a cover of “Drugs or Me” by Jimmy Eats World, which is about being in a relationship with someone addicted to drugs.

Undzis described the FAU chapter as a “mental health and suicide prevention club that wants to provide a safe place for students to go and share their feelings.”

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Coral Undzis, back right, welcomes people to the event. Joshua Stoughton |Contributing Writer

According to Archibald, he founded the club during the summer semester of 2015. He became interested in the organization because of his struggles with mental health.

“Mental health has always been a struggle for me personally, and a lot of my friends have also struggled with mental health issues in their lives,” he said.

Charli Davis, sophomore nursing major, helped organize the FAU chapter alongside Archibald. She said, “I honestly never had a support group and building one from scratch is something I can be proud of.”

The chapter is part of a national organization which was started in 2006 by Jamie Tworkowski when he met Renee Yohe, a 19-year-old-girl who struggled with addiction, self harm and mental health issues.

According to Tworkoski, he started off by selling T-shirts to help Yohe pay for treatment. The following year he founded the national nonprofit organization, which has provided over 1.5 million dollars in funding to 73 different organizations for treatment, recovery and counseling.

“There are other people in the world who have issues,” Archibald said. “Joining an organization like this can help bring about change … Help reduce stigmas. Break barriers.”

For more information on the FAU chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms, check out its page on Owl Central. To follow the featured bands, Diamond Aces and Newfound Line, check out their Facebook pages.

Joshua Stoughton is a contributing writer with the University Press. To contact him on this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.