“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” It’s that premise that inspires actress and singer-songwriter, Caitlin Crosby, to do what she does every day at The Giving Keys. The Giving Keys is a social enterprise that hires people recovering after experiencing homelessness. So far, they’ve employed 130 people, taught marketable skills, and have started a pay-it-forward movement of encouragement, something that is so key, pun intended, to recovery.
“The whole premise of The Giving Keys is you get a word that you need in your life, you embrace it, you own it, but then you’re supposed to pass it on to somebody you feel needs it more than you,” Crosby told Jesus Calling.
Growing up in Los Angeles seeing so much money, power, and influence, Crosby was amazed that in the midst of it and right in their backyard were thousands of people living in the streets and struggling so bad. Growing up going to youth groups and giving to shelters and volunteering at missions, Crosby’s heart grew to love and care about the homeless. With over 66,000 experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles, the need is great.
Now she is making a difference in a way she might have never imagined.
“Our model [at The Giving Keys] is the more products we sell, the more jobs we can create, and the more people we can try and get off the streets.”
The idea for the business grew from an experience of stopping and talking with a couple who was experiencing homelessness. Their sign read, “ugly, broke, and hungry.” They talked, Crosby heard their story, she took them to dinner and the idea started coming to life. The couple loved to make jewelry but had no job and no money. Crosby decided to make them her business partners and started creating jewelry around the idea of an engraved key with a positive message.
“I feel like The Giving Keys is such a perfect example of God’s heart, which is caring for people who need these words, whether you’re a celebrity or you’re experiencing homelessness.”
Every key necklace has an engraved word of encouragement etched into the key, words like faith, hope, brave, love, and dream.
For Caitlin, she realized some basic needs every person has no matter their background, skill set, or economic situation. “Everyone needs help. Everyone needs love. Everyone needs strength.”
“The things that they feel kind of secretive or shameful about, those are the things that really can bring your purpose alive and bring it to another level.”
Today the company has dozens of employees, has sold millions of pieces of jewelry, and is giving people coming out of homelessness an opportunity for a brighter future, in style.