A handwritten note won't cure cancer, but it can offer comfort, encouragement, and compassion to a woman during a time when she needs it most. Gina Mulligan began Girls Love Mail after experiencing breast cancer herself. Now, she’s collecting handwritten letters from women across the country and delivering them to women who could use some extra support after their own diagnosis. We sat down with Gina to learn a little more about GLM.
What is Girls Love Mail?Girls Love Mail is a non-profit that collects handwritten letters of encouragement for women with breast cancer and gets them out to women through cancer centers across the country.
What inspired you to start GLM?As an author, I was working on an Epistolary novel (or a novel told through letters) when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Letters were part of my daily life, but not until I was a patient and received over 200 cards and letters did I realize their importance. The kind and supportive words raised me up during a low point in my life. Then during treatment, I met so many women who didn't have much support let alone a card. Once I got done with my treatment, I knew I wanted to support other women. Letters seemed like the perfect way. I started GLM in August 2011 as a way to pay it forward and make sure other women felt the special kindness of a hand-written letter.
Why letters?In our age of text messages and emails, we've forgotten how truly healing it is to get something in the mail. Letters are small gifts. They're tangible and unique. From the paper to the penmanship, letters are something so precious we save them in decorated boxes to re-read. For someone who's sick, a hand-written letter is special and personal.
How many letters have you delivered in the time the organization has been active?We've collected and sent out over 140,000 letters. That's 140,000 women - one letter goes to one woman.
Can you share a few tips for someone writing a GLM letter for the first time?It can be daunting to look at a blank page, I know! A good way to start is to think about someone you care about as you write the letter. You can also begin with your favorite inspirational quote or joke. This is a great way to get something on paper right away and then elaborate. Tell why you’re sharing the quote/joke and what it means to you. Always tell the truth. It’s okay to say you don’t know what they are going through. And for GLM, we ask that every letter read our Letter Writing Guidelines. We have very specific guidelines because we don't know the letter recipient and we want every letter to be healing.
Is there a story that you can tell that shows the great work GLM is doing?I've been surprised by how much the letter writers are encouraged by writing letters. Two stories come to mind because they happened the same day. We received letters from students in China who wrote in English through a program in Canada. Because of their letters, they were making progress toward studying abroad in Canada. The same day, a women's maximum security prison sent a big box of letters with a note about how important it was to put aside their own troubles to help other women. GLM is putting good into the world, and kindness truly is universal.
The best way to get started is to visit GirlsLoveMail.com. We have sample letters, FAQs, our guidelines, information for writing letters in groups, and a way to join us. Our Miles of Mail goal is 30,000 letters for 2019. We can do it, with your help.