The mission of HOLA is to educate, connect, and empower the Latino community in the River Region of Alabama.


HOLA envisions the River Region as a leader in fostering a culturally rich and diverse community where we connect to each other through relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.


Our vision is for all residents of the community to have access to the connections, tools, and knowledge needed to fully participate in our civic, socioeconomic, and cultural life.   





We educate Latinos on skills and topics that will support them in strengthening their families, achieving their goals, and contributing to the community.

We also offer training and cultural conversations for service providers and community leaders to facilitate relationship building, foster cultural understanding, and support community outreach.


We connect the Latino population to community resources and the tools and knowledge needed to navigate Alabama culture and systems and participate fully in the civic, socioeconomic, and cultural life of the region.


We empower the Latino community to advocate for solutions to their needs and challenges, share their culture with the wider community, and develop relationships with local leaders.       



Rhonda Thompson

HOLA Board President

Ms. Rhonda Thompson is the Director of the Nehemiah Center. The Nehemiah Center is a Christian Community Development Program of First Baptist Church Montgomery’s Community Ministries.

Ana Laura Raymundo

HOLA Board Vice President

Ana was born in Queretaro, Mexico, but was raised in Alabama since the age of four. At a young age, she became a Christian. She loves GOD, her family, friends, co-workers, church, people, and dogs. She is married and she has two young adult children and two fur babies. With her family, they are members at Vaughn Forest Church and have been with the Hispanic ministry there for over 10 years. They like to work together in various ministries that can teach others the love of GOD. Ana works at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions as a ministry assistant for disaster relief/chaplaincy and she loves her job.

Manny Sanchez

HOLA Board Member

Manny is the Vice President of Community Initiatives and Soccer Development for the YMCA of Greater Montgomery. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the Emory Folmar YMCA Soccer Complex, Indoor Arena, and two Championship Stadiums. He also oversees the Associations Community initiatives in underserved areas. He is a graduate of Lee University in Cleveland, TN with a degree in Fitness/Wellness and minor in Religion. He also had a long professional soccer playing career.


Melissa Fridlin Murrell

Executive Director

Melissa Fridlin Murrell is a native of the Southeastern US and lives in Prattville, AL with her husband and four fur babies. She has a BA in Latin American Studies, has lived and worked in Mexico and Central America, and holds a Certificate in Healthcare Interpreting from Samford University in Birmingham, AL. Melissa works as a full-time freelance interpreter and translator and is the owner of Deep South Language Services.



I have been living in the Montgomery area for the past eight years, and in my work, as a Spanish interpreter, I have had many requests for assistance with access to community services.  Among many other things, my clients have asked for connections to honest attorneys, transportation to appointments, assistance with medical expenses, translation of letters from their children’s teachers, and information on how to start a business.

As a professional interpreter, I generally cannot act as an advocate or a resource in this way, and so I developed a small list of bilingual community advocates (mostly volunteers) who help connect people to these resources in the River Region. But individuals can only do so much. In conversation after conversation with these advocates, we said “We need an organization in Montgomery to serve the Latino community!”

Finally, a small group got together to form a new organization, as all organizations, start – a few people around a kitchen table or in a church conference room, with an idea. We came up with an acronym – HOLA – and a name that fit what our mission would be – Hispanic Outreach Leadership and Action.

We wanted to empower the Latino community to share their culture with the wider population in the River Region and help connect them to essential resources, in an environment that felt safe, with service in their native languages.

In 2018, we formed the Montgomery Latino Advocacy Coalition, a task force to bring together anyone from the Latino community or who works with the community. This group shares resources, assist organizations who want to outreach to the Latino community, and assesses the needs of the Latino population in the River Region and surrounding areas.

In 2019, have already interviewed over 200 people as part of our Community Needs Assessment, planned the First Annual HOLA Community Fair and filed our 501c3 application for nonprofit status. We hope to hire a staff person by the end of this year so that we can begin our work in the community.

We hope you will join us!

P.S. Special thanks goes to Pastor Abner Garcia, Lilliam Garcia, Laura Cortes, Nora Cross, Olga White, Felix Montelara, Amanda Cook, and Rhonda Thompson, who have gathered around those tables to begin our work. Thank you!