Unlocking Hope for Women and Families

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We all remember how it felt to get the key to our first home. 

We felt Proud. Independent. Strong. 

This is an even more poignant moment for a woman who has spent time homeless.

Help Unlock HOPE.


Halifax, NS – October 31, 2018 – Over 1,500 keys hang from a ceiling in a studio in Halifax. They are suspended by nearly invisible fishing line, and at first glance they appear to float randomly within the space. But if you happen to stand in one specific spot, the keys—as if by magic—will assemble and form the word HOPE. Each key represents one of the many thousands of women, youth and families Adsum has provided with emergency shelter and affordable housing, since 1983, as well as ongoing support to maintain that housing. 

James Ingram of Jive Photographic Productions has filmed the keys, and the video will premiere at Adsum for Women & Children’s 29th Annual Successful Canadian Women’s Dinner on November 1st. This one-of-a-kind installation was created by Jeff Simpson and Shelly Dwyer, a senior creative team from Arrivals + Departures agency, with one message in mind: When you give a homeless woman a key to secure housing, it unlocks much more than just a door. It unlocks hope.

Arrivals + Departures and Jive Photographic Productions were moved to take on this project pro-bono because they inherently believe in the power of hope, and the way Adsum threads that theme into all they do. James Ingram says “I believed in the project and supporting the work Adsum does simply as a human being, who cannot bear the thought of children in our community not having a home.”

This installation was not conceived without challenges or without the help of many hands. Arrivals + Departures looked to graphic designers and 3D designers to help plan the installation, a volunteer built the frame that the keys were suspended from, even the local fire department donated ladders to the cause. All were convinced to donate their time or resources by the uniqueness of this 3D project and by the dedication that was evident when asked by James, Jeff or Shelly. Looking to social media, Adsum asked followers to donate old keys and in just two weeks over 3,000 keys were dropped off at Adsum House, coming from as far as Quebec. The studio space was generously offered up by TellTale Productions, where volunteers have worked for a week to build the structure. Now we need to decide where this work of art may have a permanent home to share HOPE with the community.

“We know a lot about hope at Adsum. One of our goals is to help people who walk through our doors to unlock hope, to begin to believe that their lives can change, that they matter, that they are deserving of a home.  We are thrilled and proud to share the creation of a new video that is built around this theme of HOPE.  We owe thanks to many people for contributing to this project, including everyone who sent us old unwanted keys or volunteered to tie the endless number of keys used to create this stunning piece of art.  We are particularly grateful to the very talented creative teams at Arrivals + Departures and Jive Photographic Productions for this gift.” says Sheri Lecker; Executive Director, Adsum for Women & Children. 

Adsum for Women & Children is leading change in housing through advocacy, supports and services to end homelessness. In the last 35 years we have grown from an emergency shelter to multiple properties that house up to 80 people each day and provide ongoing support and programs. Qualified staff provides support that contributes to people’s stability once housed. Adsum operates an emergency shelter for women, families, youth and transgender individuals who are homeless. We provided 5,786 bed nights last year. We also work with more than 100 women and families who live in scattered housing throughout the community. In some cases, Adsum subsidizes rents to enable people to access housing that would be otherwise unattainable, within their monthly social assistance or low wage budgets. We continually look for ways to ensure that everyone has a safe and secure home. 

Adsum means “I Am Here” and we are here, in your community, to create hope, security, self-esteem and choice. Donate now to unlock HOPE.                          


Laurie Dolhan