Please welcome Virginia Tinsley with North Georgia United Methodist Housing & Homeless Council. We shall refer to them as HHC.
HHC uses Designs By Lucinda pins to raise money and awareness. Funny how they were turned onto our pins. A woman by the name of Virginia Tinsley (the Executive Director of HHC) was working for another organization passing out pens and candy to grab the attention of the UMC conference attendees. The attendees would walk by, grab a few writing gadgets and their chocolate fix for the afternoon. No real conversation instilled. That is when Virginia noticed a table engulfed by attendees handing money to the exhibitor. Yes, the table was covered in Lucinda pins and the attendees of the event couldn’t part with their money fast enough to secure the one of a kind pin that caught their eye. Virginia left the position she held then and became the director of HHC
Virginia and HHC have sold over 14,000 pins and has raised over $100,000. HHC first started selling pins back in 1996 to raise enough money to purchase a computer. Today “pin money” provides grants to help shelters, feeding programs, transitional housing, Habitat for Humanity builds, domestic violence shelters and other services. The Housing and Homeless Council has given out more than $3.7 million in grants since 1990. She says, “the real success isn’t the money but the exposure the pins have created for us.” Priceless…
Asked what’s her secret to selling so many pins? She relies on the help of the churches, volunteers, craft shows at Christmas time and exhibiting at the annual UMC Conference. She says, “You can’t sell them if you don’t have them” and explains that sticking with the pinl theme of what their Non Profit represents is important but she also must offer occasional variation and add new pin designs to her inventory since they are favorable to her loyal customers who continue to buy pins supporting the HHC ministries. Smart… After all, we are a society that expects instant gratification and choices.
It was great to hear about HHC’s positive experience and long lasting commitment to selling Lucinda pins. We figured that after 15 years of fundraising with our pins, Virginia must have witnessed memorable events. Many stories revolved around individuals who had made substantial pin purchases. One gentleman fell in love with our colorful butterfly pins and wanted to buy 30 on the spot. It showed that even men can’t resist the pins and find them to be the perfect gift for the people near and dear to their hearts. The other story that really jumped out at us was one of a woman who collected Lucinda pins. Sadly she had passed away but because of her love for the pins, her family donated the pins back to HHC so that they could continue to raise money and awareness. It was a sentimental journey about the impact of the pins and how they touch people’s lives.
We asked Virginia about the custom pin Designs By Lucinda created for UMC’s 50th anniversary in recognition of the full rights of clergy women, a huge milestone that was honored by one of a kind artwork. She told us it was quite successful and they still have a few left of the 2600 pins they acquired. Then we got a heads up. They are considering having another new design produced! Virginia is awesome to work with and we are more than excited about creating a new pin design for HHC.
Looking ahead, we wanted to know what the plans are for 2011. Coming right up Feb. 27th is Homeless Offering Sunday which is a big fundraiser for HHC. Virginia also shared concerns about the North Georgia Conference budget funding cuts this year and said she will be relying more on pin sales to help cover operating costs.
Finally, we had to ask “Virginia, how many pins have you sold off your body?” “Oh I don’t know but I sold one yesterday” was the reply of the woman who has dedicated over 20 years to helping the homeless one day at a time.
Thank you Virginia and God bless.