The other day, I was given a key – not just any key, a Giving Key. A very kind friend bestowed this upon me, instilling a confidence in me with the word engraved on the front: “COURAGE.” I am now tasked with wearing this key with pride and passing it on when I see someone who might need it more than I do. As lovely as the necklace is, the opportunity to pass it on is the most beautiful part of this gift.
The story of The Giving Keys begins with the key to a New York hotel room. Actress and singer/songwriter Caitlyn Crosby began wearing a hotel key as a necklace while on tour, and had the idea to engrave inspirational words on old, used keys. She wanted to have their purpose renewed over and over again, recognizing that we are similar to the keys, in a way – flawed, scarred, occasionally discarded by others.
When Caitlyn ran into couple Rob and Cera on the street, holding a sign “Ugly, Broke & Hungry,” she invited them to dinner and serendipitously discovered that Cera made jewelry. A partnership was formed, marking the start of the company’s passion to help those transitioning out of homelessness. Rob and Cera joined the team, saving enough to pay for a hotel room, then an apartment, and finally a home of their own.
“It’s our responsibility as humans to take care of each other. It’s our duty as humans to care for people when we are weak and broken.”
Their mission rings true in everything they do, as evidenced by the 1,000+ stories on their website shared by those who have given or received a key. The words aren’t just words to these recipients, they are hope, something to hold on to. For some, the keys might have started out as a fashion statement, but when they saw a need in someone else’s life, they didn’t hesitate to give them away. When you purchase or are given a key, you are really gaining two things – a necklace, and an opportunity to pay it forward.
“It’s our responsibility as humans to take care of each other. It’s our duty as humans to care for people when we are weak and broken,” Caitlyn affirms. Today, the keys are in more than 1,200 stores around the world, and worn intentionally by those of all walks of life who want to be inspired and touch others with their words.
If you want to join the movement, you can find your own Giving Key at Teri Ann’s on Front Street, in downtown Marietta.