By Kat Jahnigen
With his Airwalks and leather jacket, Alan Holub has a self-described style of East Coast Mafia meets West Coast Hip. It’s an apt description for this man of many contradictions, who has launched a monumental project to start Eagle County’s first clean-and-sober transitional living facility.
Holub describes himself as “a Jewish kid from Ohio,” yet he has played a pivotal volunteer role for United Methodist Church of Eagle Valley’s food pantry and now in their free weekly meals, Simple Suppers. A recovering alcoholic and addict now clean for more than 20 years, Holub lost a sister to a drunk driver and spent 12 years sharing with convicted offenders the effect of his sister’s death on his family as part of a victim impact panel.
“He has turned our Simple Supper program and Food Pantry from chaos to ultra-organized,” says Ashley Patriacca, the Simple Supper Administrator. “Alan is one to show up before anyone else. He just wants everything to be perfect for those who come (to Simple Suppers). He wants them to be our ‘guests’ versus simply those in need of a dinner.”
Once the owner of Shade Tree Auto Body in Minturn, which he ran for 11 years, Holub has been out of work for the past year and has used the time to do something exceptional: turning his desire to help others into a fulltime avocation.
“Alan is one of many unsung heroes in the Valley that is quietly donating their time, effort and energy to make this a better place to live,” says Liz Merrick who is co-administrator of the Eagle Food Pantry. “He’s truly got a compassionate spirit.”
In his father’s steps
To understand Holub, with all his incongruities, you would have to know about his father.
“I frankly didn’t have a very close relationship with my father as a child,” says Holub. “In my 20s, when I got clean, I made an amends and kind of feel like I started fresh. By the time I was 30, I knew my father was a great man.”
Holub goes on to describe the hundreds of professional accolades and personal testimonials lining the walls of his father’s law office and tells an interesting story of the moment when he first understood all the “out of the ordinary” things that went on while he was growing up.
“We’d go to the grocery store and load up the cart and meet with the store manager then go to the car without paying a dollar. Or all the times we’d have big blocks of government cheese in the refrigerator. As a child I didn’t really understand it, but my mother explained that it was provided to folks who had no money. And it turned out that all those years my father, as a bankruptcy and small claims attorney, had clients that didn’t have the financial wherewithal to cover their debt, so my father had worked out deals with them,” Holub says.
Holub says his father saw his profession as a way to help people get out of tough situations with their dignity, with their pride, some respect. From his father, he learned the importance of giving back to the community.
The Healing House
Holub’s latest endeavor at giving back stems from the programs he’s helped develop in two local county jails. The Healing House Project is a clean-and-sober transitional living facility for individuals struggling with addictions. At this point, Holub has gathered a team of professionals – from addiction experts to spiritual advisors to attorneys and contractors – to guide the structuring of the program. The next phase is fundraising and building public support. Donations of any amount can be made in support of the project at First Bank locations. When it comes to community support, Holub already has quite a bit of it.
“I’m very grateful to know Alan and be associated with him at the Eagle Food Ministry,” says Merrick. “Through his own life experiences, he’s come to learn that one of the greatest ways to achieve joy is by making other people’s lives better.”
As for those “life experiences,” Holub makes no secret of his own battle with drugs and alcohol.
“It’s nobody’s fault -- I was born that way,” he says of his propensity for addiction. “My parents did the best they could with what they had. They (were using) Dr. Spock’s baby book, and there was no section for ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll.’”
A part of his recovery, Holub has spent the last 23 years helping other addicts get clean. “I guess what it comes down to is we do what we know. My life is centered around helping other people – it’s not something I set out to do. It’s something that just happened.”