Changing Lives One Key At A Time

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
There are many reasons why I blog, so many in fact that on many occasions I've considered writing a post just talking about my reasons for blogging.  Today's post is a prime example of what inspires me to write, why I share post after post, month after month.........because along my journey my eyes are opened to people who inspire me, people who touch me or who are touching others, people whose story I feel compelled to share.  If you look at my Directory under the Intriguing People category, you will see a long list of such people and today, another post, another person will be added to that list.

It probably sounds cliche but if we were brave enough to admit it, I think we all wish we could do something to change the world, change the lives of others.  Some of you already have - whether it be through your job, your church, some volunteer work, or even some singular act of kindness towards a neighbor or stranger.  If you have, you know the feeling you get from witnessing the effect some small act can have on a person's life.  Well, this post is about one person who took a simple act, which spiraled into something so huge, it has changed the lives of thousands.  You may think you can't change the world, but here's a story demonstrating that maybe you can.

This is not a new story - but it is new to me.  When I heard about it today, I felt compelled to share. As I began to research, I was blown away that practically every media outlet has covered it.  Yet, I'd missed it.  Maybe you have too.   This story is about paying it forward and it begins with a key. Because I want to share this message in the best words possible, I am going to quote directly from a website:
This story begins with a New York hotel room key. Actress and singer/songwriter, Caitlin Crosby, started wearing the hotel key as a necklace while on tour and had the idea to start engraving old, used keys with inspirational words. Realizing that, in a way, we are all like these keys – unique, flawed, scarred, and sometimes discarded by others – she wanted these keys to have their purpose renewed over and over again." Caitlin always knew she wanted a charitable dimension to The Giving Keys, and within a few months she found the missing link. On a rainy day walking on Hollywood Boulevard, Caitlin saw a couple named Rob and Cera sitting under an umbrella holding a sign that read Ugly, Broke, & Hungry. Caitlin invited them to dinner, where she serendipitously discovered that Cera made jewelry. This was a magical a-ha moment where Caitlin asked them to be her business partners. Rob and Cera joined the team and started making Giving Keys the very next day.
Step by step, Rob and Cera saved enough money for a hotel room, then an apartment, and then a home to call their own! Today, they are living in San Diego where Rob works for the San Diego Zoo and Cera is also employed. This was the start of our company's passion to help those who have been affected by homelessness. Read more about our impact here.

Intrigued yet?   I'd like you to take 12 minutes to watch this TED talk video featuring Caitlin Crosby telling her own story of how she began the Giving Keys organization.  Click on the link below to watch the You Tube video...

 "While on tour, Caitlin started The Giving Keys which employs those transitioning out of homelessness to make jewelry out of repurposed keys. Each key is engraved with a message like FEARLESS, HOPE, STRENGTH or COURAGE. When the wearer of the key encounters someone else who needs the message - they are encouraged to give it away and share their “pay it forward” story.
Over the last three years, The Giving Keys has employed 28 people who have struggled with homelessness, helped 22 move into permanent housing, and collected thousands of pay it forward stories. Today, they have over 50 employees and their products are sold at Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Fred Segal, Kitson and nearly 2,000 other retail stores around the world."

If you watched to the video, you know that the object of the keys is this..... to purchase a key with a word that speaks to YOU - it might remind you of your worth, encourage you toward a goal, comfort you in your time of need, etc....  You wear that key until a time when you meet someone who may need that key and it's message more than you do.  You give them the key....and Pay It Forward.  If you go to the Giving Keys website, you can read over 1000 of touching stories of people whose keys have changed their life or someone else's in over 20 different categories such as endurance, friendship, strength, peace, cancer, brave, inspire, let go and many, many more.  These stories give strength, provide hope and inspire others to Pay It Forward everydayHere's one of them taken from the Giving Key website:

Keeping Strong Through It All

A dear friend sent me a Strength bracelet when my mom was in hospice care. She was there for 45 days. I wore the bracelet every day and didn't take it off. I was struggling with her dying process, looking at it helped encourage me to stay strong. This friend also texted me every day and asked how my mom and I were doing. My mom passed March 8th 2015 the day before my birthday. Today I saw a friend on Facebook who has a husband that is in ICU and needs surgery for a very serious condition, it is a life/death scenario. She has two teen boys. Her husband is the sole provider in the family. I am sending a strength bracelet to her to encourage her to stay strong and keep the faith. I have been waiting for just the right moment to pay this forward and this was it. I love what this company is doing, it is so inspiring and I am so happy to be a part of paying it forward. 
 I don't know about you, but this truly inspires and touches me.  Even if homelessness isn't on your list of charities, the simple act of giving a key to a person who needs hope and encouragement is something so simple yet could change a person's outlook.  We spend $5 dollars on a greeting card, $4 on a cup of coffee.....why not invest a little more Paying It Forward and making a difference in the lives of the homeless as well as the person who will be touched to wear a key with a personal word of encouragement?

Here's two more videos (90 seconds and 4 minutes respectively) explaining this truly special cause:

These Giving Keys are sold locally at several stores, including one of my favorites - the Apple Barrel in Schoharie whose Facebook post today introduced me to this great organization.  They can also be purchased online through the Giving Keys website.  Your first reaction might be disappointment - they are a key, not a piece of jewelry from Tiffany's.  It's about the message, not a fashion statement.  Please take a moment to check out their site, read some of the stories, watch the videos in this post and then consider purchasing a Giving Key. It's one small step to changing the world beginning with one person in your life! 

Pay it Forward today - share this post with a friend and whether you purchase a key or perform some other random act of kindness....start to change the world today!  
It only takes one person and that person is YOU!

 Text within quotes in italics was taken directly from the Giving Key website
 to ensure accuracy and content.

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