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Virtual Office Hours: Engaging youth on social media

Editor’s note:’s Virtual Office Hours offers free, personalized training sessions to organizations and individuals serving those impacted by HIV/AIDS. Today’s blog features Love Heals’ Executive Director, Deborah Levine, who attended a Virtual Office Hours session to expand their youth outreach via social media. Here is what she learned.

Can you say a bit about what your work at Love Heals involves?
Love Heals youth program - BW

Love Heals Youth Program

Love Heals, the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education, was founded in 1992 to carry on the work of AIDS activist Alison Gertz, who lost her personal battle with AIDS at the age of 26. As the largest provider of HIV/AIDS education to the New York City Department of Education, we have now reached over 700,000 youth through our science-based, age-appropriate, and culturally sensitive sexual and reproductive health education programs. This includes HIV-prevention and leadership development trainings and presentations offered in schools and other community settings across New York City and the tri-state area.

What inspired you to make an appointment for a Virtual Office Hours session?

Love Heals is keenly aware of the importance of social media in the everyday lives of our youth. We are attempting to enhance Love Heals’ outreach to targeted youth populations, parents, other youth allies, strategic partners, and supporters through our existing social media platforms. In addition, we want to more effectively use social media as a vehicle to disseminate important information about policy and HIV/AIDS-related topics.

How did Virtual Office Hours help your organization’s social media efforts?

Love Heals’ challenge is crafting different social media messages that are age-appropriate for our targeted youth, ages 14-19, and also informative for parents/guardians, other youth allies, funders, and other supporters. In our Virtual Office Hours session, we discussed our organization’s goals and objectives for developing and implementing an effective social media plan.

After that call, staff sent a follow-up email summarizing the various topics that we discussed and providing us with additional resources to help guide us in enhancing our existing social media use and launching an effective social marketing plan.

We were most appreciative of the quality time spent discussing the essential components of an effective social marketing plan.

What keeps you personally inspired to do this work?

Our youth are the source of our inspiration. Love Heals takes great pride in our work to empower youth in the fight against HIV through our trainings and presentations, thus enabling them to become effective community leaders and change agents.

What advice would you give to others trying to figure out where new media might help with their work in HIV treatment and prevention?
  • Think outside the box! Be creative in your social media messaging and approach.
  • Stay on top of new trends and technological advancements in social media. Otherwise, they will lose valuable opportunities to keep both their constituents and the public at large – potentially hundreds or thousands of individuals – abreast of important developments impacting their lives and affecting the organization’s work.  Not-for-profits need knowledgeable individuals to effectively advocate for us too!


You have questions? We have answers! Sign up here for your Virtual Office Hours appointment.