When Katy resident Dray Holeman lost his eyesight because of cataracts in 2009 and soon after his job, he decided to focus his time and energy on his love for music.
Holeman began giving music lessons, and through his new career he met children who wanted to learn but could not afford the lessons.
Because he believes everyone should have the opportunity to play and learn music, Dray said he and his wife, Mary, started nonprofit Katy Rocks Inc. to bring music and instruments to those who cannot afford it.
"There's a lot of people who want to learn music, but just don't have the money," Mary Coovert Holeman said. "Music builds their self-confidence—their self-esteem. It's an outlet for them. It gives them something to focus on."
Each week, Dray teaches two-hour camps at four area organizations for low-income and at-risk school-age children. The classes are broken up in four equal parts—teaching basic guitar, piano, drums and songwriting.
Music gives the children an outlet to express themselves, Mary said.
"We tell the children, 'Express yourselves in words the world can hear—put it in a verse or a chorus and let the world hear what you are going through,'" she said.
Dray teaches the camps at the Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club of Houston Aldine Westfield location, the Krause Center for at-risk youth, Pro-Vision LLC for underserved and at-risk youth and the Covenant House Houston helping homeless teens ages 18 to 21.
Dray said he has seen music change his students.
"They don't fight; they stay out of trouble," he said. "It doesn't happen overnight, but it does seem to always happen. One of my students had wanted to take his own life. Now he decided he would rather sing and play the piano. Everybody has some kind of talent that makes them worthwhile. I try to find any kid who wants to learn music, and I help them the best I can."
Dray also teaches private lessons to about two dozen students. Some of those students play on stage at various community events and ribbon cuttings through Katy Rocks, giving them a chance to perform and gain exposure.
"The events give them an opportunity to go out and perform," Mary said. "All they want to do is play and be heard. This gives them a chance to meet people and grow their fan base."
Katy Rocks accepts instrument donations, and Dray refurbishes them and gives them to students or organizations.
"If something is broken, I can usually fix it and find someone who really wants to play and can't afford it," he said. "I give it to them, and I teach them to play it."
Katy Rocks Inc.
22514 Guston Hall Lane