Writing a Letter to a Stranger on the Subway Changed the Course of This Woman’s Life
Hannah Brencher dreamed as a child of moving to New York City to become a writer. She followed her dream to the big city when she graduated college, but she soon found herself lonely and depressed.
“I just felt very worthless,” she said in a video by Storytellers for Good.
Brencher was riding the subway one day when she saw a woman board the train who also looked sad, lonely, and down-trodden. Brencher took out her notebook and wrote the woman a letter with some encouraging and caring words.
“It didn’t matter that I was sad, that I was lonely, that I was depressed,” Brencher said. “I could be that [support] for somebody else.”
She decided the world needed more love letters.
In 2011, she founded an organization, More Love Letters, to get kindness moving through the mail. We’re talking ink on paper, envelopes, and stamps, not emails.
How It Works
Anyone can nominate someone in need of a love letter. More Love Letters puts a callout to the general public for letters for a nominee, then a volunteer for the organization collects the letters, reads through them, and selects some to go in a bundle to be sent to the nominee.
For example, More Love Letters has posted this letter request, calling for people to write letters to a man named Gene by July 9th:
Gene’s granddaughter wrote to us about her grandfather’s bravery and courage over the past few years. She says, ‘My grandma and grandpa have been married for fifty years as of last summer, and they have the most beautiful relationship of which I am capable of imagining. When my grandma, Ruth, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009, it absolutely rocked my grandfather’s world. They’ve been fighting it together for almost seven years, but as his wife begins to slip away, my grandpa has confessed to feeling more alone than ever.’
More Love Letters asks: “Please grab your pens and help us remind this caring, devoted man that the world is on his side and he’s not alone, even in this difficult time. Please mail all love letters to: Gene’s bundle, c/o Ellen C., 721 Depot Lane, Sultan, WA, 98294, USA.”
The organization has sent letters to all 50 states, but also to some 50 countries, totalling more than 11,000 letters.
Lauren Goodkin was a recipient. She shared with Storytellers for Good the impact the letter had on her: “I just felt so lost and disconnected. One day, somebody said, ‘You have a letter.’ I must have read it 100 times.”
She said of the person who wrote the letter, “She knew how to just say, ‘I’m sorry you feel this way, and you’re not alone.'”