UCC-related Emmaus Homes, a CHHSM-member ministry that serves persons with cognitive and developmental disabilities, is in the middle of a year-long celebration of its 125-year history, and it’s doing so in the best way possible, says Steven Amrhein, Emmaus’ brand manager: through social media.
“We decided social media would be a good platform to celebrate some of our history because of how diverse and widespread it can be,” Amrhein says. “With 125 years of history, we have connections all across the United States, and social media is a landscape that allows us to stay connected.”
The “Celebrating the Legacy” theme of the anniversary year is played out daily via tweets of historical facts, and through weekly Facebook posts that lift up not only Emmaus’ history, but examples of its core values. There also is a history section on its website, a briefer version of the daily tweets, and the latest Annual Report highlights “then and now” stories of the St. Charles, Mo.-based ministry ().
“Our Twitter 125 Facts campaign started on Oct. 6, 2018, 125 days away from our 125th Anniversary Gala [to be held Feb. 23, 2019],” says Amrhein. Emmaus is “sharing an interesting fact from each year we were founded until 2018, which will lead us to the day of the Gala.”
The idea of the campaign indirectly came from local historian Cathie Schoppenhorst, who is working on an Emmaus Homes Heritage Project to preserve its rich and extensive history.
“We discovered all of the interesting content that was coming in,” says Amrhein, and the idea of the Twitter campaign was born.
The Twitter 125 Facts campaign is taking place alongside the Facebook campaign. “Each month, we celebrate one of our core values or one of the groups that makes Emmaus unique — such as our staff, our clients, our donors, etc.,” Amrhein adds. “So throughout the year, we have been interviewing various past and present Emmaus team members as well as showcasing some interesting historical facts” from all 125 years.
On Saturdays, the Facebook page is updated with a new historical fact related to the month’s theme, he says. In November, the theme was “Celebrating Family,” so the historical facts were about that theme. For December, the theme is “Celebrating Inclusion.”
One benefit of the various social media celebrations has been the connection between Emmaus Homes and its partners or, as Amrhein puts it, the “social” aspect of social media. People see stories or people they remember and share them with friends, he says. “We have long-standing connections with churches and volunteer groups. When we post a story about them, we make sure they have access to see it and let their networks see the good they’ve made in the community.”
The anniversary celebration culminates with the Gala, where the faith, history and service of Emmaus will be celebrated. After the Gala, the Twitter 125 Facts will be included in a short video that will be accessible via social media and on the Emmaus Homes website.