Dear Diary,

The other day when I drove my daughter to school, I saw a sign that read, New president. Same God. That’s the reason why my friends and I aren’t down and depressed about the elections. In fact, we are invigorated. We are compelled to work hard to ensure that our neighbors feel love and support when the news says they should feel fear and anxiety. We’re not alone. Others are joining us in the good fight.

free-store-foundersThis weekend, we saw the result of our blood, sweat and tears when Free Store Penn Hills opened to the public in the Lincoln Park Community Center. We opened to a full house–more than 60 people packed the hallway. Some opened their hearts and donated their belongings. Others opened shopping bags and received items they needed. Everyone opened their arms and hugged one another. In the end, we cut a ribbon for our store, which was built debt-free! Friends and family members pooled their resources and filled the store with everything we needed–from commercial racks and a children’s corner to furniture and décor, courtesy of the new At Home store.


For a moment, we forgot that life is unfair. That poverty exists. That privilege prevails.


Instead, our thoughts focused on children, making crafts, selecting books and smiling through painted faces.



And we reflected on a quote that says, Small acts when multiplied by millions of people can change the world. That’s exactly what’s happening in Penn Hills. Residents, including the school district superintendent, are rallying around this idea that one kind act can change their community–a community where countless middle class families thrive alongside those slipping into suburban poverty.


The store strives to serve as a safety net, to catch those falling through the cracks of the system. Our founders and supporters refuse to cozy up in front of our fireplaces and watch premium cable shows when our neighbors don’t  have food in their refrigerators or clothes in their closets. We can’t be comfortable when inequities and inadequacies exist. You can join us in our mission to love our neighbors. For a few hours a month, you can volunteer at the store, sorting and distributing donations. You can facilitate a workshop, arming others with information they need to succeed at home and at work. Interested? Email

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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