Kenneth Cole associate Wendy Levitt reveals how a small act of giving back can have a major impact.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR INTRODUCTION TO THE GIVING KEYS ORGANIZATION.
I was first introduced to The Giving Keys through my work here at Kenneth Cole Productions. The founder of The Giving Keys, Caitlin Crosby, is part of our Courageous Class national ad campaign, and Kenneth Cole gave each employee a Giving Key as a gift. The key I received was inscribed with the word “Create.” We learned about the organization (which helps people transition out of homelessness) and how our company was involved. Today, as you walk around the office, you can find most employees wearing these keys around their necks.
WHY DID THIS PARTICULAR ORGANIZATION RESONATE WITH YOU SO MUCH?
I am a firm believer in paying it forward. The Giving Keys is an organization that encourages others to pay it forward when they feel someone may need their word more than they do. I was a resident of Los Angeles for 12 years and saw how bad the homelessness problem was there. The fact that The Giving Keys is employing those transitioning out of homelessness really resonated with me.
WHO DID YOU GIVE YOUR KEY TO? AND WHY?
I gave my key to a lady I met while on a social impact trip with Fathom in March in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. I was visiting RePapel, a women’s co-op that recycles paper into beautiful stationary. Despite the conditions of the area, my experience at RePapel was life changing. I met a lady when I first arrived who had a smile that would melt anyone’s heart. She only knew how to say “hello” and “I love you” in English. I spent the day with her and her co-workers and she sang beautifully as we moved from station to station of the recycling process. I knew the moment I saw her that my key was hers, as she was “creating” something beautiful. I had been carrying my key since Kenneth Cole gifted it to me, waiting for the right moment to pass it on. I knew this moment would not happen again, if ever.
HOW HAS GIVING BACK ENHANCED YOUR LIFE?
This moment touched my life more than I ever could’ve imagined. I had been harboring a lot of fear and sadness prior to this trip and it was as if someone lifted this weight off my shoulders. Giving back has made me a better person--it takes you out of daily life and really reminds you how precious life is. I feel I have been given a lot in life and, therefore, I find it incredibly important to give back. I have learned more about myself through volunteering than I ever could’ve imagined.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO GET INVOLVED?
Look for opportunities to volunteer with organizations you feel strongly about. It’s a great way to meet new people and to learn more about who you really are.