The Hive Society and #HashtagLunchBag after preparing 300 meals during SXSW.

The Hive Society and #HashtagLunchBag after preparing 300 meals during SXSW.

Last week during my first visit to SXSW (yes, I’m a newbie), I encountered many of interesting characters, witnessed crazy performances from a few of my favorite artists, indulged on 6th street, avoided catching a cold from the rain and discovered one of the most encouraging havens for the homeless within the city of Austin. On Saturday morning, fellow bees and I eagerly joined our buddies of #HashtagLunchBagHOU for their SXSW edition of the global project, assembling meals to distribute to Austin’s homeless. After preparing about 300 meals, we separated into teams to deliver the goods to designated drop offs. Team Hive Society was assigned to Front Steps, a three-story establishment that is not your typical homeless shelter.

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The Hive Society team with Hannah from Front Steps.

Cheerfully greeted by Volunteer & Communications Coordinator, Hannah Ford, we unloaded our vehicles full with lunches to their nearest cooler. Being the curious Bees that we are, there was no hesitation when Hannah asked if we would like a tour of the ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless). Upon entering the building, Hannah assured us that this shelter was much different from the rest. Front Steps was developed in 1997 as the Capital Area Homeless Alliance in response to a proposal of the Community Action Networks 1996 Comprehensive Plan of Addressing Homelessness. According to the City of Austin’s official website “on any given night there are more than 2,300 Austinites living on the city streets, in shelters or in other places not meant for human in habitation, like cars.”

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The ARCH( Austin Resource Center for the Homeless) open 24/7 for men and women.

With the help from the city, Front Steps has grown from serving 50-70 homeless clients a day at their original storefront to 600 clients daily in the ARCH. I absolutely love the community feel of the center. Many organizations typically just feed and give homeless individuals a place to sleep for only an evening but at Front Steps they understand the importance of providing stability and security. Located at 7th & Neches, this social service center is open 24/7, accommodating clients with necessities such as a place to rest at any time of day or night and healthy cuisine prepared in a large commercial kitchen.

Opened in 2004, the ARCH offers many amenities that we take for granted:

-Public Restrooms
-Laundry Rooms
-Public Showers
-Computer Rooms
-Charging Stations for Electronics
-Study Spaces

If those services aren’t impressive enough, the ARCH also promotes and assists clients to transition from homelessness by supplying them with the key essentials for applying for employment. Clients are able to use the facility’s address on job applications as well as having their own mailbox to send and receive correspondence. A job phone line is also made available for employers to call and successfully leave messages for clients on possible job offers.

Front Steps believes that homelessness is a journey, not a destination. They make all of this possible by administering a pathway home through shelter, affordable housing and community education. With effective resources and support, transitioning from homelessness can continue to be made available to Austinites.

Interested in donating to or volunteering with Front Steps?

Visit their website: