The Austin Chamber of Commerce recognized it's 2015 "Austinite of the Year." The award went to Alan Graham,who heads up the "Mobile Loaves and Fishes" program, which helps to feed the city's homeless community.
The short walk across a stage at the downtown Hilton hotel was the latest step of a long journey that Alan Graham began nearly 20 years ago.
"It’s a ... it’s humbling; to be up here and it’s an honor,” said Graham.
Graham was recognized Wednesday morning as the Austinite of the Year by the Austin Chamber. Before the award was presented a video played and detailed some of his work as the founder of Mobile Loaves & Fishes. Graham started the organization in 1998, in an effort to feed Austin's growing transient and homeless community. He told FOX 7 awards are certainly nice but they aren't his motivation, what drives Alan Graham is a desire to fill a need.
"So I can’t say I knew this was going to happen, but when I look back in the 20-20 rearview mirror, it all makes sense as to why we are standing here today,” said Graham.
The latest project for Graham and his team is taking shape on 27 acres near the expo center. The community first-village housing program is a collection of small cottages and RV's designed for up to 200 chronically homeless people. Graham says he's providing more than shelter his goal is to help residents re-establish themselves.
"We believe we are creating a new movement here in Austin Texas. That movement basically says housing will never solve homelessness, community will, so when the community comes up underneath, like what they are doing with our Community First Village, here in Austin that is a complete game changer,” said Graham.
Graham's dream is to build similar villages in other cities where his mobile loaves and fishes program is already operating. Along with Austin food trucks are currently rolling in San Antonio, New Orleans, Nashville, Providence, Minneapolis, and New Bedford.
The chamber provided a check for $10,000; seed money to help graham continue making his dreams a reality. The hugs and handshakes certainly brought a smile to graham's face, and in return he offered this advice for those who want to follow his lead but don’t know how to take that first step.
"You just have to have that passion that drive that focus to do whatever it is you want to do, so in context of homelessness, we can all get involved and make a giant difference in our community, it’s not as big as we think it is, it’s very mitigatable."
The Austin Chamber AOY award dates back to 1984. Some of the past recipients include; U.T. coach Darrell Royal, former governor Ann Richards, and the leadership of South by Southwest.