If you don’t have, give.

When I agreed to co-chair this year’s Community Human Services Holiday Gift Card Drive, whose goal is to provide 550 of Pittsburgh’s needy and/or homeless with a holiday gift, allowing them the dignity to choose for themselves what they’d most like or most need, I did so with one thought in the back of my head.

I know what it’s like to struggle.

It might not be politically correct to talk about this, but oh well, I’m gonna.

When my husband and I went for the dream of owning a restaurant just prior to my identity reveal, I honestly had my head in the clouds. And up in those clouds were giant bags of money. MONEY MONEY MONEY!

I laugh now because I’m older and wiser and I understand that the restaurant industry, when you’re just a regular person trying to start something, is so hard. Do it in downtown Pittsburgh and you’ve REALLY given yourself a challenge. We were hit pretty quickly with the realities of cash flow after I was fired from my nicely-paying job, and then a week after we opened the restaurant, Market Square was transformed into a giant pile of dirt and it would remain a giant pile of dirt until our restaurant caught fire, one year ago today. That, my friends, is called a “triple whammy.”

We were lucky to survive the construction, as not many businesses in Market Square did. I thank you for that because many times the restaurant was filled with readers.

And there were hard times. Very hard times. Beyond paycheck to paycheck. Penny to penny. It was incredible stress and strain and it was harder times than any of my sisters or my parents probably realize (right now, my mother is going to call me and lecture me and I guarantee she will work “United States of America” in there somewhere.)

It was especially hard because while my husband and I were never anything more than middle class, we never really struggled. We had money for what we needed. Then it was a new reality and a new existence. A restaurant we were trying to live off of and me, unemployable. Toxic. You think I haven’t tried to find a full-time job since I was fired? LOL. I am uninterviewable. Unhireable. I have strong opinions about the mayor and the largest employer in the city, UPMC. My love is nonprofit work, but even I can understand why the nonprofits aren’t too keen to give me a second glance. I’ve stopped trying and instead focus on helping out at the restaurant and in the near future, monetizing this site a bit. Might as well make some money off of it.

Add all that together and cash flow became a trickle and money became a Thing and if it wasn’t for a ridiculously low mortgage payment and the safety net of my mother and father to give us breathing room occasionally, well, I understand why the bottom falls out on people and they find themselves homeless.

I’m so blessed. Even during the hardest times and these current hard times as I live with constant noise in my head, I am so so so blessed and I count it every day that I have a healthy family, that my children never once realized how hard times had become, that they never wanted for anything, that I have a safety net to catch me if I need it. Without those things, nothing separates me from the people that CHS is trying to give gifts to this year.

And here’s the thing. I believe that when you don’t have, you should give, because for some reason it opens you to a greater perspective that money is just a thing. Lowercase. Not a Thing. I couldn’t give much. But when a friend was raising money for a charity or via Kickstarter, I threw in five bucks. Drove my husband batty. But it felt good. Good karma out there just waiting to turn the bend and hopefully come back to me. Maybe that’s selfish.

Things are better. They were scary, but they’re better now. Hopefully they continue to get better. But you see, THAT’S why I am co-chairing this fundraising drive. And that’s why I hope you can spare some bucks to buy a gift card and donate it to CHS. Get one for a store on the busline. Like Target or Subway. $10. $20. Whatever. You can mail it to CHS or you can bring it to the Cookies and Cards Holiday Reception event being held next Monday, December 5 at Shiloh Inn. There’s no charge to attend. Just bring a gift.

I’ll be there and I’ll hug you and thank you and toast you for your generosity of spirit and I’ll hope you realize that by helping out, you’ve joined hands with others to create a safety net for these folks, where once there was none.

That’s just being a good neighbor.



  1. Ali
    December 1, 2011 3:38 pm

    Believe it or not, I am not on facebook; therefore, I cannot click on the link to the Cookies and Cards holiday reception…Could you give me a little more information about it?


  2. Sis
    December 1, 2011 3:49 pm

    Totally agree with you!

    I was laid off last year but continued the tradition of adopting families for Christmas with my friends. It made me realize how lucky I am, how lucky WE ALL are, and how a little can go a long way.

  3. Butcher's Dog
    December 1, 2011 3:56 pm

    And this, along with everything else but probably at the head of the list of everything else, is why we love you.

  4. jennviolet
    December 1, 2011 4:14 pm

    Ginny, this post has brought me to tears. Thank you for your honesty for being so open.

    I lost my job recently and since haven’t been compelled to comment… depression sucks

    I’ll see you on Monday with what we can give. Thank you for this post

  5. Michelle Smiles
    December 1, 2011 4:39 pm

    Hope things continue to improve.

    My darkest days financially were, ironically, while I was a social worker trying to help families who had little or nothing. When I graduated from college, the shelter I worked in paid me minimum wage ($3.35 an hour as I recall). I had 3 jobs to try and support myself and was occasionally envious of my clients’ food stamps. It is so easy for money to be A Thing. I was also fortunate to have a safety net – my parents bought me tires for my birthday and paid for me to see the dentist for Christmas.

    A little breathing room and a little Merry at the holidays is such a lovely thing. I wish you huge success with this campaign.

  6. Kacie
    December 1, 2011 4:56 pm

    Please monetize your blog! You should be paid for this. It’s not that hard, really. Do it.

  7. theresa
    December 1, 2011 5:41 pm

    I am not sure how I even stumbled across your website but I did and I love it.

    This post came at the perfect time. I changed jobs in late summer and as I am in sales it is taking time and I feel like I have no money for the first time in a long time. I have been counting pennies and was struggling with not giving this year. I want to but I was worried that I should not. I signed up for working at the food bank but felt badly not giving too.

    Your post reminded me that I can do it. It is a choice. I may not eat as well in the next month or two but somebody else will eat, when maybe they would not have if I did not do what I can do. I am off to Costco on a snowy day in Denver to pick up a case of peanut butter to bring with me tomorrow.

    Thank you for making me realize what should have been obvious.


  8. hello haha narf
    December 1, 2011 5:54 pm

    thrilled to hear that you are FINALLY going to make some money from this site…about damn time!

  9. Christina
    December 1, 2011 6:06 pm

    I agree with Kacie and Becky – you should REALLY monetize this site. You have the traffic volume that you need to do it and just need to use it.

    Don’t forget: You makes us think and laugh almost every single day. That is work, great work that and needs to pay out.

    This is btw a fantastic posting full of power and honesty. You rock!

  10. Heather
    December 1, 2011 6:22 pm

    Thank you, Ginny, for the wonderful reminder that I may have it hard, but there are others who have it much harder. Thank you, too, for all you do… from bringing smiles to your readers to helping those in need. God bless.

  11. Steve
    December 1, 2011 7:04 pm

    Monetize the Hittsburgh out of this thang! I expect to see product placement for foul trolls, drinking games, Craigs list mining, and any and all other obnoxious propaganda you can send our way. Amen.

  12. Noelle
    December 1, 2011 7:41 pm

    I wanna see #1 freakin’ Cochran and Edgar Snyder ads all over this site. Bring it!!

  13. Leenyburgh
    December 1, 2011 8:34 pm

    Possible advertisers interested in your site: Hittsburgh, Lukey’s Juice Boxes, Nutella, local T-shirt companies, AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, the list goes on…

  14. Sam's Dog
    December 1, 2011 8:54 pm

    @ Butcher’s, once again, couldn’t agree more. Ginny, thanks for sharing, it’s amazing how adversity can make you take stock of what truly matters and what is superficial. The laughs on this site are great, but the true nature of the folks here are what makes “Ginny’s Minions” really wonderful burghers. I’ll be buying a few gift cards tomorrow. I’m also lazy, what’s the address for mailing the gift cards?

  15. Sam's Dog
    December 2, 2011 5:34 am

    Duh, just went back to the article and by clicking on the highlighted text, I found the mailing address. The internet is a wonderful place if you use a little smarts!

  16. Butcher's Dog
    December 2, 2011 8:15 am

    Not to go all political here, but the reason Ginny’s being urged to monetize the site is precisely the reason tenure laws exist for teachers…she was fired and is now considered “toxic” as a hire because she exercised her freedom of speech. I find that repugnant beyond anything short of child molestation. The Captains of Industry all want meek, docile little employees who don’t look up and don’t speak up. That’s bullshit and it’s fundamentally un-American.

    Freedom of expression is fundamental to us all. Anything that infringes on that is just wrong. I know it was mentioned when she was “outed” and let go, like, the next day that she should sue. I think if it were me I would be papering the landscape with job applications followed closely by attorney notices until someone hired me. I know she’s past all that now, but that’s what I would do.

    OK. I’m off the soapbox for now.

  17. SteelCityMagnolia
    December 2, 2011 9:31 am

    BRAVO, GINNY!!! Thank you for a very powerful, very honest post! Not that I expect anything less from you — it’s one of the reasons I love this site so much!

    I, too, have a story — I hit rock bottom about 3 years ago. My boyfriend died, my mother became ill, and I was laid off. I was laid off for a year and a half and spent every single one of those 500-plus days worrying. About EVERYTHING. I went from someone who didn’t put much importance on money to someone who worried and watched over every.single.penny. I’m back to work now, but I know damn well how fast the bottom can drop out. I still worry, not nearly as much. And I am so much more cognizant and so much more grateful for what I do have and I count those blessings every day.

    Wishes for much success for you and your husband! I’d love to see a bigass Edgar Snyder banner across the top of the page. Get some bucks for your awesome talent, woman!!!!

    Going to check that website for the address right now.

  18. JennyMoon
    December 2, 2011 9:53 am

    #11 hilarious!

  19. Linda
    December 3, 2011 1:57 pm

    In all seriousness, you should apply for a job with Girl Scouts. They are mostly clueless about social media and probably don’t even know anything about you. They have no direct ties to the City of Pittsburgh as the council covers the entire western half of the state. Actually, I think they don’t really care much for the city anyway. Quite frankly, they could use your skills.


  20. davethecfre
    December 4, 2011 12:34 am

    As a fund raising professional, I study why people give. One thing that is frequently studied year after year is the fact that people with lesser means always give a larger percentage of their income than people with greater means (read:more money).

    If you ever want to check out jobs/careers in fund raising you should check out an Association of Fundraising Profesionals event


  21. bucdaddy
    December 4, 2011 2:22 pm

    I pledge to buy any beer brand that advertises on this site, even (ptooie) Coors and Miller.

    But not Bud.

    Sorry. My magnanimity has its limits.

  22. Butcher's Dog
    December 4, 2011 4:28 pm

    OK, I’ll join bucdaddy. Even more enthusiastically if Labatt heads the list.

    Just don’t expect me to make Coors or Miller a regular purchase.

  23. spoon
    December 4, 2011 10:09 pm

    @bucdaddy @Butcher’s Dog you cant see it but I’m giving yinz the stink eye.

  24. Ben
    December 5, 2011 11:31 am

    Ginny: You are such a gifted writer. I think you should try to monetize the site.

  25. empirechick
    December 5, 2011 11:38 am

    If Coors and Bud were my only choices, I would never drink again. I know it’s not exactly craft (sorry @spoon), but Yuengling would be a fine choice as an advertiser!

  26. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    December 5, 2011 12:05 pm

    I would push for Troegs as an advertiser. Mad Elf! Mad Elf!

  27. spoon
    December 5, 2011 12:11 pm

    @empirechick I’m fine with Yuengling :) they’re PA.

    I’m sure if Zima was an option that would be a no brainer :)

    I’d buy ad space on here just so yinz have to look at me every day.

  28. Butcher's Dog
    December 5, 2011 3:41 pm

    @empirechick: I’m OK with Yuengling, too. That’s what I drink in Myrtle Beach. @spoon: I’m sure there’d be a way to close the ads, like, instantly. Feel free to understand that I would employ that option (unless you had printable coupons [coo-pons] in your banner.) That might be a different story.