105-year-old hospital volunteer asks for Retweets while advocating for volunteerism

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Photo republished with permission from Toronto East General. Click on the photo to reshare it on Twitter.

Olive Dodds, 105, volunteers at Toronto East General Hospital and while she’s not on 9-year-old Twitter herself, she was happy to remind others that she’s “still going strong as a volunteer” even at age 105.

Ms. Dodds knits dolls with Toronto East General Hospital’s volunteer knitting and sewing group. The dolls are then sold, with proceeds going to the hospital’s foundation, says Sharon Navarro, who leads the hospital’s social media strategy.

” She was already used to (talking to the) media. Social media was simply an extension of the traditional media,” Ms. Navarro told me.

Angela Pappaianni, the volunteer coordinator, came up with the idea, which Ms. Navarro said fits right in with the hospital’s presence on social media.

It’s great to hear that non-communications team members spot stories worth sharing – which I like to call story shopping. The best stories are told this way because the people that are nearest to them are involved.

“‘Social’ is really becoming entrenched in everything we do – as is storytelling. So this idea was a natural fit with our social media strategy,” Ms. Navarro said. “We hope that the picture captures (Ms. Dodds’) spirit. Olive is 105, but her memory is amazing and she still has a wonderful gift of telling great stories.”

The photo has been shared dozens of times on Twitter alone. (Fee free to retweet it here if you like.) The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily, also wrote about her 30 years of volunteering and more.

It’s really a nice example of how unique stories capture our interest. Think about it. If I were to hold up a sign like that it wouldn’t be a story. I talk about social media all day long. You’d expect me to do that. It’s different with Ms. Dodds. She grabs our attention. She looks like she’s having fun. She’s also one of the 7,900 Canadians over age 100.  She’s still giving back to her community through volunteering. It’s a sweet photo and tells a story.



Finally, Ms. Navarro and the hospital social account also directly shared the photo and story with people they determined might find interest in it.  They shared it by tagging a number of healthcare social media influencers and others who might find it interesting. (Let’s call it influencer marketing – nothing wrong with that!). It’s a great strategy because those people are a likely group to find this story interesting and worth sharing.

I’m glad they tagged me because I found the story great and sweet and even decided to do a quick blog post on it, as you already know. :). Sharing relevant stories with the right people isn’t pushy at all. It’s relevant and appreciated.

“We would love to see it go ‘viral.’ But more importantly, we want to share Olive’s remarkable journey and story.” Ms. Navarro told me.

We all have those great stories in us. Let’s be OK with sharing them with the world – no matter the channel.

Happy 105th birthday!



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