Help Holt Heal focusing on community’s improvement
WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Giselle Hood
Nonprofit organization Help Holt Heal hosted its first fundraiser on Sunday, April 16.
Founder Ray Allen, also known as “Capt.” Ray, said he was inspired to help the Holt community after witnessing the area’s neglect. Allen said Holt is in a unique position because it’s an unincorporated town in Tuscaloosa County, but he’s got some ideas to fix it.
“Years ago there was a lot of industry,” Allen said. “Then (the businesses) all went away, and when they went away a lot of the jobs went away. So a lot of people had to retire or leave and the Holt community started to deteriorate.”
Help Holt Heal was started by Allen a year ago. Using his own retirement funds, the organization has already purchased and renovated one house. Allen said he hopes it’s the first of many more.
“We’re going in and restoring those houses,” Allen said. “We’re putting people and families in those houses. We’ll put children back in those schools, in our churches, and working in our community to revitalize a community one home at a time.
The nonprofit is also targeting youth within the community by eradicating drug culture and providing sports alternatives.
“We’re gonna have music, we’re gonna have food, all kinds of things,” Allen said. “Holt’s gonna be that spot that people want to come. But you’ve gotta get out and work. The city’s not gonna help you, county’s not going to help you. You’ve got to help yourself.”
The fundraiser included a silent auction with donated items, as well as a band, food and an appearance from Big Al. Capt. Ray said he credits the community’s support for the event and everything Help Holt Heal has been able to do so far.
Proceeds from the event are going toward house renovations, cleanups and youth involvement programs. Its next fundraiser will be a car wash in May.