by Tara Cavanaugh
Mike Wallace is a member of the Americorps AIDS Team Detroit. As part of his Americorps service, he works at the HIV/AIDS Resource Center in Ypsilanti as a prevention specialist.
1. What do you do as a prevention specialist at HARC?
I do counseling, testing, referrals, one-on-one consultations, health fairs, and I’m on the social media team.
2. How do you use social media to get your message out?
For the Team Detroit Facebook page, I’ll post news articles on HIV updates or if there are any health fairs happening in the area. At HARC in Ypsilanti we have a Facebook, Twitter and YouTube account. It’s a lot of networking. So if there’s an agency in the area that we work with that’s having an event we’ll go ahead and post that to our page as well, to spread the word.
3. What advice would you give to another agency that’s thinking about using social media?
You have to get a team together and you have to have a strategy. What do you want to let the public know? What information do you want to put in their hands? You have to focus on that. You can’t try to do everything at once. Social media is one of those things that is changing constantly. You have to look at ways to change the way you’re giving information to the public. You can’t keep saying, “come to our health fair.” You have to go into the public’s homes and put information in their hands.
4. What’s one of the biggest benefits of using social media?
It’s a great opportunity because a lot of it is free. All we needed to pay for at HARC was a Flip video camera. And there’s no better way to raise awareness and prevent a whole epidemic from expanding than to do it free.
5. Do you think you’ll keep doing work like this in the future?
I pretty much fell in love with this kind of work in the first couple of months I got involved. What really helps is my teammates. It shouldn’t just be me in this interview, because all of us put in the same amount of effort.
The whole team, and everyone in this field really, they put their heart into it. You kind of have to in this field if you’re working with HIV/AIDS. You have to stay involved. You have to love what you do even though you hate what you’re battling.