The Facebook Phenomenon Embraces Riderwood

SIILVER SPRING, MD (February 1, 2013) -- In June 2010, Dr. Eugenio Machado, Riderwood's medical director, started a Facebook page. It wasn't for himself. He created it for the Erickson Living community in Silver Spring, MD, with the intention of sharing residents' vibrant stories and reaching out beyond the borders of the 120-acre campus. He hoped the page would give residents another avenue to meet their neighbors while teaching the surrounding community what Riderwood is all about. Receiving 100 hits daily, the page shares many stories about the Riderwood community. In fact, some featured there first made the front page of The Washington Post, and one even reached as far away as Berlin, Germany. Machado has always been a personable man who listens to his patients. Aside from the health concerns that bring residents to his office, they often speak of their lives, detailing their stories, their accomplishments, the goals they still have. When he hears residents speak passionately about their lives, he asks if they'd be interested in sharing their story. Most of them agree. "So many stories go untold here," Machado says, "and I keep hearing them and don't want to just keep them to myself." He thought these stories should be shared not only with the community but also with the rest of the world. So he enlisted the help of Mel Tansill, the Public Affairs manager for Riderwood, to write the stories. Riderwood Facebook is a mutual project now. In October 2011, the page featured a story about Kathleen "Dee" McGrath, survivor of the 1926 F-4 tornado in La Plata, in Charles County, Md. "The story got picked up by several newspapers," Machado says, "and Dee's family all emailed me personally, thanking me for running the story." Community members aren't the only ones reading the Riderwood Facebook page. Their family and friends check the page frequently, as do staff and former employees, and even the media. In 2011, the story of a couple who met on campus and got married made the front page of The Washington Post. News reporters find human interest stories from Riderwood's Facebook page, and Riderwood posts links to articles concerning the community from local media. "his directs traffic to them as well. And the page's reach doesn't end with local media. In December 2011, Riderwood Facebook  featured a story about resident Earl Albers, a World War II veteran. He had taken in a German orphan and became a mentor to the young girl (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=294162233956455&set=a.130445526994794.11151.124998194206194&type=1&theater) "That story was picked up by a paper [the Berliner Morgenpost] in Berlin!" Machado says. The page features more than human interest stories, like upcoming events that are open to the public as well as awards the community has won. There is a mix of human interest stories with ones that take readers behind the scenes Riderwood's campus operations, says Tansill. An average of four stories a week is posted, with photos and videos added to create vibrancy. The page is providing a unique real-time glimpse of our residents' lifestyles, and because Machado is a self-proclaimed "techie" at heart, he monitors and updates the page with ease, grateful he can be a part of the residents' lives in a deeper way.