There are over 400 homeless women in Austin, but less than 50 shelter beds dedicated to serving them. Many of these women are looking to get back on their feet — and back into a career — they just lack the resources, and support, to do so on their own.
This is where local organizations like Dress for Success come in. Dress for Success Austin aims to help women transition back into the working world, by providing them with proper interview attire, as well as enrolling them into pre-employment preparation programs, professional development programs, job retention programs and more (financial support for rent, utilities, etc.). Since its founding in 2003, Dress for Success has 6,900 women.
On Monday night, one of those empowered clients, Betty Staehr, will get her time in the spotlight with the world premiere of In Her Shoes, a documentary that chronicles Staehr’s uplifting story.
Created by local filmmaker Brandy Rainey-Amstel, In Her Shoes follows Betty’s journey from leaving an abusive relationship and becoming homeless to rising up (thanks to organizations like Dress for Success and Goodwill Industries) and empowering not only herself, but other of Austin’s underserved women.
Amstel first became inspired to share the Dress for Success story after meeting some of its successful clients at an entrepreneurial event. And when Amstel learned of Staehr’s inspirational “turn around” story, she says she found the person to profile.
Betty's story was very moving for me. She was an example of how someone could use the services provided, rebuild her life and then give back to the community that supported her. After all that she had been through, she wanted to give back. It was a story that I knew many people could identify with and had the possibility of creating change in their lives. She had the same hopes, dreams and aspirations as most people.
She lived not too far from where I lived in a nice neighborhood and because of some unfortunate experiences with an abusive relationship, found herself homeless and from this she created a life she loves and is living powerfully. It takes a courageous woman to share this experience with an audience.
The 23-minute documentary took two years to complete. It bravely shares the struggles Betty Staehr faced, how she was able to overcome the unfortunate hand she was dealt, get back on her feet and start giving back to the community with an annual shoe drive that benefits other women in similar situations.
In Her Shoes premieres on Monday, November 12 at the Stateside Theatre. The event, emceed by Carla McDonald, will feature a red carpet, cocktails, silent auction and live music by Sarah Hickman; all funds raised will support the continued efforts of Dress for Success Austin. After its premiere, Amstel says, In Her Shoes will continue its crusade on the festival circuit, but also as a fundraising and awareness tool licensed to other nonprofits.
“I hope that people take away from the film an awareness about what circumstances there might have been to have someone be homeless,” Amstel says. “Most of them out there have just fallen on hard times and are looking for a little help to get back up on their feet. I hope that we can feel some compassion and understanding for all of them."
"Every shoe has a story and it may be very different from what is originally perceived.”
The world premiere of In Her Shoes is Monday, November 12 at the Stateside Theatre. Tickets to the event are still available and start at $75.