Located in Houston, Texas, Bel Inizio, (which means beautiful beginning in Italian), is a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged women develop self-confidence and life skills through fitness and nutrition. Participants train to complete a 5K, which helps prepare them for the ultimate race — the race for a better life.

Houston has a generous giving community and great compassion for those in need. We have emergency shelters, transitional housing, and halfway houses. The agencies offer case workers, recovery programs, and job skills training. What gets lost, and is critically needed, is helping individuals achieve the self-esteem and confidence that can come from an ongoing exercise and nutrition program.

Bel Inizio was launched to help meet this need. We work with women from many partner agencies including Santa Maria Hostel, Dress for Success, Brigid’s Hope, Star of Hope, Redeemed Ministries, and The Women’s Home. Our clients are individuals who had a variety of challenges from sexual abuse, substance and alcohol abuse and homelessness. Most are in recovery, and all are working hard to re-enter the community. With Bel Inizio many have the opportunity to succeed in a way that they never thought possible: they will set a healthy goal and achieve it.

Bel Inizio teams train to complete a 5K, and in the process learn about commitment, fitness, and nutrition. They see healthy behaviors in action and are offered tools to help them succeed once they are out on their own. Bel Inizio shows each woman that they matter.

After completion of the 5K training program, participants have the opportunity to continue on to the phase 2 program called Beyond the Finish Line (BTFL). BTFL is a program designed to foster continuity of support and lifelong community for women as they transition from Bel Inizio’s 5K program to further pursue the ultimate race – the race for a better life.

Our Founder and Executive Director, Theresa Strong, has well over a decade invested in running and nearly that in working to improve conditions for the homeless in Houston. She relies on the kindness of friends, family, and strangers to achieve the mission of Bel Inizio.


Rachel-SanrelusProgram Director Rachel Sanrelus has her Bachelor’s degree in Communication and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Fordham University. Rachel has worked with non-profits in both paid and volunteer positions for over 15 years. She is a certified life coach, and is dedicated to the idea of helping people find their own motivation in order to make positive change in their lives.

Rachel-SanrelusProgram Manager Caroline Venegas has her Bachelor’s degree in Community Advocacy and Social Policy Cum Laude from Arizona State University. She has been actively volunteering in her community for a decade and has organized community events ranging from park cleanups and voter registration drives to mindfulness classes at her local cafe. She is passionate about cultivating empowered communities within our programs, as she ascribes to the belief that empowered women empower women.

Our Board of Directors


President Sarah Ziese
Vice President Lilly Powell
Patricia Martin Pieczynski
Secretary Jana Kopecky


Danielle Carter
Sandy Hinderliter
Cindy Knox
Jessica McCreary
Steffie Tomson
Debbie Vega