When I was eight years old, I wanted to be a pediatrician because my mother said that it was the best way to make a lot of money and still hang out with a bunch of cool kids. When Hannah Brencher was eight years old, she told her mother the world needed more love letters, and proclaimed that she would become a love letter writer. Definitely not a way to make money, but most definitely a way to stay rich in the heart. So listen up, ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul.’
In October 2010, at age twenty-three, Brencher began leaving “love letters” all around New York City – in coat pockets, church pews, and coffee shops – in the hopes of dealing with her own feelings of loneliness. If I had known her at the time, I would have just given her a big hug and made her my best friend, but then she might not have started writing love letters, so never mind that. Actually, I’m celebrating the bold moves Brencher made, just following her instincts.
Brencher’s first love letter was to a woman riding a NYC 4 train. Brencher says, “She looked so lonely. So depressed. And I really wanted to reach out and grab her and have a massive heart to heart… It felt amazing, like I should have been doing it all long and so I decided that I would never stop.” Being unsigned, the first love letters Brencher wrote left a stroke of mystery and whimsy in the lives of those who found the letters, and she soon started to blog about her experiences. Personally, if I found a random love letter in my pocket, I would try to find the person that wrote it to me via Craigslist’s Missed Connections, but no one seemed to do that to Brencher.
Not expecting any love letters back, Brencher expanded her love letter writing through her blog by promising a handwritten letter to anyone who emailed her with a mailing address, and within nine months, she wrote two hundred fifty handwritten notes to strangers around the globe. At the four hundred mark, in September 2011, Brencher created the organization, The World Needs More Love Letters, and in four months, the love letters quadrupled to one thousand six hundred.
To Brencher, a love letter is a “‘thank you for being alive’ letter” that is “true and from the heart”, which inspired me to write a couple of letters to my best girlfriends this weekend. Brencher herself received a surprise love letter in the beginning stages of her organization, including a packet of stamps and a ‘thank you’. Her favorite love letter that she’s had to write? “I really delight in writing love letters to girls who are lonely in the big city. It is definitely a topic I can relate to, something I can speak to. I think my favorite love letter- in that category- was to a boy who requested a love letter because he was just moving to NYC to start college. It was so much to write that letter because I packed inside of it a ‘How to Survive the City Guide,’ fully loaded with all the tips and tricks I wish someone had shown me upon my arrival.”
The most difficult letter Brencher had to write was to a person she knew personally for years. “I was not expecting it but she was going through a really hard time… I was so nervous and it really hit me that it might be easier sometimes to write to a stranger rather than someone you already know…”
Creating a comfortable way to express one’s self openly and spread appreciation to others, Brencher is looking to expand More Love Letters to all types of populations, including “…the homeless, the underrepresented populations, the children who never feel or know love.” Brencher says that “there is a deep poverty– deeper than physical– that sits in the hearts of those who don’t even know what words of affirmation look like.” Brencher wants to be there for those people: “It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, not even in love letters. I want us to be able to reach a point where we are talking about hard topics and addressing issues and really touching on the rawness of love letters that gets covered sometimes.”
In December 2011, MoreLoveLetters.com experienced it’s first viral pickup when Brencher wrote a love letter to college students during final exams. Suddenly, the site had one hundred twenty thousand readers within seventy-two hours.
Now, individuals from all over the world – USA, Canada, Romania, Kenya, Mexico, and England – document their letter leaving through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and More Love Letters’ blog. Brencher has expanded her team to include twelve other love letter writers, with over one thousand email volunteers to represent the six continents. Kerry Rose, twenty three years old and part of the More Love Letters writing team, says that she sees her involvement as an opportunity to connect with people. When she writes a letter, she imagines herself sitting down to coffee with the person she’s writing to, talking about their similar trials and tribulations. Anita Cheung, who works in the PR industry and is also part of the writing team, sees her letters as a way to inspire others and remind people to live their best lives.
Brencher not only works with this team of writers, but also campus groups, retirement classrooms, and alternative high school groups, hosting “love letter parties” and incorporating “love letter writing” into curriculums.
Becoming a force all on it’s own, The World Needs More Love Letters has now been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Oprah.com, Yahoo! Shine, The Daily Candy, gURL.com, Her Campus, and several other online publications.
If you want to get involved with MoreLoveLetters.com, become a part of writing a love letter bundle! And to get further involved, watch Hannah Brencher explain moreloveletters.com here…
The World Needs More Love Letters is an organization created completely from the heart, spreading love and good thoughts all across the world. This Valentine’s Day, join their team and follow More Love Letters at moreloveletters.com. They’ve already written our readers and contributing writers a letter below! And yes, you better believe I sent a letter back.
Women Working to Do Good is a series that Hello Giggles and the White House have been collaborating on. We will bring you stories of women in communities across the United States who we think are stars in their own right. Whether they are young entrepreneurs, active community organizers, or making a difference in a single life or community, we think these women are amazing and want to share their stories with you! Each story will also be featured on the White House blog, and we are working together to bring more strong female role models to the forefront.
If there is a woman in your community who you think should be honored in this series, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!