Written by Madison Van Horn
In the heart of Chattanooga, one man strives to create a safe and united community through spreading kindness, one yard at a time.
Fred Holland is a Chattanooga native who is known and loved by many in his neighborhood for always lending a helping hand. On any given day, you can expect to find Fred somewhere on Flynn Street or East 8th Street mowing his neighbors’ lawns free of charge, chatting with community members or volunteering at the Salvation Army. No matter what, Fred always boasts a smile on his face and love in his heart.
Known as a “neighborhood hero” by his community, Fred says that he sees his neighbors as family.
“Now it’s just one big family in this neighborhood and that’s what I really like,” says Fred. “It makes me feel good when a community can come together and really look out for each other.”
With a heart of gold and a signature gold tooth to match, Fred is known by almost everyone in the neighborhood for being the friendly face that mows their lawns out of the kindness of his heart. The catch is that he never asks for money.
One neighbor, Nathan Gregory says that Fred is always going above and beyond for his people.
“Fred operates as a leader of the community by stopping by and making sure everyone is okay,” says Gregory. “When the lady down the street was sick he went to Uncle Larry’s and bought her some food. Not a lot of people would do that.”
When asked why Fred is such a giving person, he points above to symbolize his undying faith in God. Helping people is more than just a feel-good hobby for Fred, it is his purpose in life.
“Sometimes there are going to be good days and sometimes bad days,” says Fred. “Everyone needs a helping hand because you don’t know what a person is going through. A good talk will help somebody… it will help.”
Fred’s presence in the community is felt by many as he fills the unofficial neighborhood protector role.
“Fred to me is honestly a neighborhood hero,” says Gregory. “He is just one of the nicest guys. You always see him around. The time I don’t see him in the neighborhood, he is always at the Salvation Army helping people. It’s always good to have people like that in the neighborhood.”
On the outskirts of Fred’s neighborhood sits the Salvation Army’s 614 Corps and ReCreate Café, which provides emergency services, developmental programs and more to those in need.
Many Salvation Army employees are quick to compliment Fred, but Takeyta Young, Program Director for the 614 Corp, says she has known Fred since she was a child and that his impact on the community has only grown since then.
“He comes here and volunteers with the 614 and he is here pretty much like a paid employee,” says Young. “He gets up everyday just like we do to come and serve. He does a lot of things to help us, keeping the center clean, keeping us protected. Not only that but he gives good advice. He leads by example and I think he’s a great leader for our community.”
The Salvation Army’s Chef Terry Epps also speaks highly of Fred’s ecentric spirit, saying that he trusts him wholeheartedly.
“My first impression of him was that he’s a lunatic,” said Epps. “He’s still a lunatic but he would give you the shirt off his back and he would go to jail for me. He does stuff for me at the house and he doesn’t ask for any money, but I always give it to him.”
Almost all of Fred’s neighbors and friends at the Salvation Army comment on his comedic nature and selfless attitude. Chef Epps says that Fred’s eccentric personality is what keeps the community’s spirit high.
“You laugh with Fred everyday,” Epps says.
Fred’s devotion to his community knows no limits, nor does his faith in God. Fred says that everyday is a gift from God and that is what keeps him going.
“People ask me, ‘how could you do this’ and I tell them through the grace of God. I’m doing it for the glory of God, not for money,” says Fred. “I just love doing it, making people feel good. I go out there and talk to them, I pray with them and I love them. They take me seriously and they look up to me like a big brother.”
To find out more about the 614 Corps and the Salvation Army, visit their website.
Meet the Storytellers
Mark Emanuel Drinkard is a Multimedia Producer at UT Chattanooga pursuing Communications. He specializes in videography and video editing. His passion for helping others drives his lens to frame the unnoticed voices of the community, which can be seen in stories such as “Legacy of Grief.” His work also extends to youth in need, and he has worked as a Photography Supervisor at a resident camp in Colorado. Reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Madison Van Horn
Madison Van Horn is currently studying Communications and Political Science and works as Features editor for The University Echo. Van Horn is experienced in writing, performing, and serving as a leader. While in leadership, she directed a fundraiser that raised over 30k for the prevention of child abuse. Van Horn has a passion for highlighting local people and businesses in the Chattanooga area through storytelling. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Maggie Weaver is a photojournalist and performer based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Weaver has over a decade of theater experience and uses her leadership and artistic skills to tell stories about the human experience and raw compassion through her camera lense. Her experiences working in leadership with youth community theater camps continues to inspire her to pursue new stories that bring the community together. To contact Maggie, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Molly Bowman is a senior Photography and Media Art major at UT Chattanooga. Her work has been published within Strike Magazine, where she has served as art director for 2021 and she is a recipient of the Michael Connally Memorial Award. Molly demonstrates high levels of commitment in everything she does in the community, and has a unique, artist approach to storytelling. You can get in touch with her at email@example.com and on Instagram @mollybowmanvisuals.