Subject: Note of Thanks
Assalamu Aliakum brothers,
My son and I wish to express warm thanks to ICNA Relief Florida for the beautiful red and gray backpack. My son was thrilled with it, and quickly packed it up with his folders and books and took it to school on Friday! It is wonderful quality and style, also. Much appreciated. As a single mother this is the great help. May Allah reward you guys for what you brother(s) do for our community.
A Sister from South Florida
(Name withheld for privacy reasons)
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ICNA Relief's Back 2 School Giveaways Begin in Cities Across the Country
ICNA Relief Houston held a Back 2 School Giveaway the branch's food pantry on Aug. 10th. More than 1,500 backpacks are packaged and distributed among underprivileged neighborhoods and to children of refugees. Shabbir Hasan, ICNA Relief's Community Outreach Coordinator (second from the left) being awarded with his certificate of recognition by Council Member Mike Laster, District J.
ICNA Relief Georgia distributed backpacks containing school supplies at Mohammad School in Atlanta, GA on Aug. 1st. The school is located close to Masjid Al Islam. The Mohammad School is the oldest Muslim school in Atlanta. In 1980, the community came together to fulfill the dream of Sister Clara Mohammed and opened an Islamic Institution that saluted her by naming the school the Sister Clara Mohammed School. In 1989, its 9th -12th grade program was renamed W.D. Mohammed High School, or simply as Mohammad School. ICNA Relief Georgia's annual Back 2 School Giveaway is part of the tradition at this institution; we provide free backpacks to students here at the beginning of each school year. Alhumdulillah.
Thank You Target for Supporting Us Every Year!
"The Dallas Road TARGET in Marietta, GA is a fan of ICNA Relief's Back 2 School Giveaways. Last year they dozens of donated backpack and notebooks. They are supporting us again this year with gift cards and will donate leftover backpacks at the end of the summer (that we will give away next year). Thank you Target!"
- Br. Hamid Qureshi, ICNA Relief Georgia
By the mercy of Allah, ICNA Relief Dallas’ Back 2 School Giveaway was conducted at the ICNA Relief Dallas Food Pantry on Aug. 1st. Children were waiting by the venue 3 hours before the event even started. We gave out 300 school bags packed with the needed accessories in only an hour and a half. Br Hamza Abdullah, Br Asif Mehmood along with his family and Br Zaid Fakhri came out to help. May Allah reward them.
ICNA Relief Dallas iniatiated their program in late July by focusing on Syrian families (first picture from the left) who recently arrived and are being helped by us in smoothening their resettlement process.
On Saturday July 11th, local ICNA Relief distributed 200 school bags filled with school supplies to the Garden Grove community. They were joined by special guest Mayor Bao Nguyen.
For Muslims, an essential part of the faith is the principle of giving and being a good neighbor. This initiative is part of ICNA Relief’s national annual Back-2-School Giveaway Project, which is hosting over 45 similar events across the U.S in over 15 states. These efforts are helping over 15,000 children nationwide, where children will be receiving school bags filled with supplies such as notebooks, pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, rulers, crayons and scissors.
ICNA Relief and our partners hope this initiative caters to the needs of low-income families in the community, regardless of their race, gender or religion. Many families are under financial pressure; some have lost jobs and find it difficult to buy school supplies for their children. Through the Back to School Giveaway, we hope to both help struggling families provide for their children and inspire the American Muslim community to partake in this commendable act. ICNA Relief So Cal will be partnering with Islamic Society of Orange County-Garden Grove, Islamic Institute of Orange County-Anaheim, ISLAH-LA, Masjid Al Sabireen-Pomona, Masjid Al Shareef-Long Beach and Masjid La Mirada.
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This Ramadan, Will You Emerge as a Swan?
Just as gold is purified by fire, so also the fasts of Ramadan purify us so we can be our best selves, our most spiritual selves, for the rest of the year. Yes, Ramadan is the pond from which ducklings are meant to emerge as swans. And here we are, with only the last days, before the month is behind us. Hearing of journeys to Islam can be one of the best motivations for drawing closer to our spiritual goals, and holding fast to them well beyond Ramadan. We have just the story for you.
Meet Sr. Jane Aslam, Director of Disaster Relief Services, for ICNA Relief USA, a former pastoral worker. Twenty years ago, her role at a university in the South involved interfaith work. Meeting international students led her to learn about Islam. She embraced the faith two years later. Sister Jane's decision came with a price. A price that the faint of faith may have recoiled from. It cost her her marriage. It cost her her children, then about 4 and 6 years old. She lost her job, and her family of origin. She was asked to withdraw from the university. She underwent court ordered psychiatric evaluations (only to be found to be among the most grounded of people). She said, twenty years ago, not only was it in the South, but Islam was seen as a cult.
Journey to Islam
As a mother, to have your children taken from you, to lose your place in society, to be robbed of all you've ever known. Talk about sticker shock. Has being Muslim been worth the cost to her?
"Alhamdollilah", Sr. Jane responds in a heartbeat. Judaism and Christianity gave her the ten commandments, she said, and Islam gave her the details as to how to fulfill those commandments. It's a process towards growth, she said. "For instance, the ten commandments forbids adultery and Islam shows you all the little things that keep you from inadvertently falling into it. Because we don't intentionally set out to sin. Islam is about keeping life simple by providing guidance," she said.
One can't help but wonder how, when we are born into a faith, we often take it so lightly. We are even negligent with it. Yet to abide by that same faith, other people have made such huge sacrifices. The decades since then, for Sr.Jane, included a second marriage to a Muslim man, revisiting motherhood again, serving as a principal at an Islamic school, and working with FEMA. It involves embracing her now adult children from her first marriage, unconditionally. It also means being a beacon of hope to those who've lost everything in natural, man-made, and personal disasters.
ICNA Relief to the Rescue
Hurricane Katrina struck in Ramadan ten years ago. It was a hard-felt blow upon the community Sr. Jane lived in, the community she was raised in, the community where her family lives. It was while responding to the needs of her overflowing masjid, that she was hired by ICNA Relief USA, to help provide assistance to hungry, tired, and stressed evacuees. It was a time never to be forgotten, she says.
“ICNA Relief supported the needs of families who had lost everything, except their lives and what they carried in their car. It provided apartments and utilities, for families coming out of a shelter environment. It provided transportation for those who could not return, nor afford to go forward, to meet their supporting family and/or friends. ICNA Relief helped a family who desperately needed to fly an ailing child for emergency surgery,” Sr. Jane recalls. Ten years later, Sr. Jane still remembers the pain and gratitude in their eyes, for the blessings Allah bestowed upon them through the generous donations and case work done by ICNA Relief USA.
When Disasters Storm in, Whom Do You Count on?
Yes, Hurricane Katrina struck in Ramadan ten years ago. “ICNA Relief USA provided halal food for up to 300 masjid-shelter occupants, for suhoor and iftaars that year, and food for nearly 3-months after that. Your donations helped make it happen. Local community volunteers provided the additional labor of shopping, cooking, and serving. “ICNA Relief USA coordinated the volunteers and maintained the shelter operations, including a point-of-distribution for pantry food & cleaning supplies, and clothing; and also a medical assistance section, supported by Muslim doctors deployed to the state's university medical facility, providing for evacuated hospitals,” says Sr. Jane Aslam.
Together, ICNA Relief USA, Sr. Jane, and the local Muslim community were the face of North America's Muslims. Their efforts then, and now, were fueled by Allah, donors and volunteers like you. By Allah’s grace, Sr. Jane and her crew kept an overcrowded environment clean; sorted donations and helped families re-clothe themselves; and maintained registration information, while facilitating the reunification for family members looking for one another. “ICNA Relief supported families with referrals to disaster related relief resources and facilitated registration for governmental assistance, by training volunteers from among the evacuees and local LSU-MSA students. ICNA Relief facilitated pantry food support and utility payment assistance for local-families who hosted others who couldn't return to their homes. It even sent relief into outlying areas, including inner-city New Orleans and rural bayou communities,” says Sr. Jane.
Today, as Director of Disaster Relief Services at ICNA Relief USA, Sr. Jane knows that her true calling is being able to bring help to survivors of disasters. This Ramadan, may her story inspire your own transformation. This Ramadan, please donate generously so she can continue to reach the families hardest hit when disasters storm in. Ameen.
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Meet The Youngest Resident of Our Chicago's Women's Shelter: Baby Saheera
On June 20th, we welcomed little Saheera Lee Mills, into the world. She is the youngest resident at ICNA Relief Women's Shelter in Chicago. Born at 1:57 p.m., she weighed 6.6 pounds. While most newborns go home to a real home, Saheera came home from the hospital to a Women’s Shelter with her parents and six-year-old sister. It costs $600 on average, per month to cover rent, utilities, job training, case management and counseling, to support a family until they are back on their feet.