Words of Hope

We believe in the power of stories to educate and inspire change in our community.

Words of Hope is Caritas of Austin’s largest annual fundraising event. Each year, the event features an author or prominent individual whose story reflects the mission and work of Caritas of Austin. The Harvey Penick Award for Excellence in the Game of Life is also presented during the evening’s program. The 2018 event raised a record-breaking $491,400 to prevent and end homelessness in Austin.

2018 Featured Speaker

Emmitt Smith headshot

Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith first rose to prominence via an illustrious football career, which included three Super Bowl championships as a member of the Dallas Cowboys and induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Smith is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, and his charm and charisma made him one of the sports world’s most popular personalities during his playing career. Smith is now a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, and he is passionate about sharing his personal and professional stories across the country.

2018 Harvey Penick Award

Lynn and Tom Meredith

Lynn and Tom Meredith

During the 2018 Words of Hope Dinner, Lynn and Tom Meredith were honored with the Harvey Penick Award for Excellence in the Game of Life. Together, the couple founded the MFI Foundation and have been deeply involved with numerous organizations including Austin Children’s Museum, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, KLRU, and Waller Creek Conservancy. We are inspired by their lifetime commitment to making Austin more vibrant for all.

Learn more about the Harvey Penick Award.

Past Inspirational Speakers

2018 | Emmitt Smith – former Dallas Cowboy, successful entrepreneur and philanthropist
2017 | Ron Hall – author of Same Kind of Different as Me and What Difference Do It Make
2016 | Dr. Jeff Salz and Alepho Deng – author of They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky
2015 | Bobby Bones – prominent radio personality
2014 | Marcus Luttrell – U.S. Navy SEAL and author of Lone Survivor
2013 | Luma Mufleh – inspirational coach of a soccer team called the Fugees-short for refugees. Basis for book Refugees United
2012 | Liz Murray – author of Breaking Night and whose story inspired the film From Homeless to Harvard
2011 | Rick Bragg – Pulitzer Prize winning author of All Over but the Shoutin’
2010 | Leigh Anne Tuohy – the woman whose life inspired the novel and film The Blind Side
2009 | Jeannette Walls – the author of The Glass Castle
2008 | Ron Hall and Denver Moore – authors of Same Kind of Different as Me