Chicago Muslim Turkey Drive Shows True Face of Jihad

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When residents of Chicago’s South Side hear the word “jihad”, they think of the man who brings them turkeys every November. Jihad Shoshara, past recipient of the IMAN Community Impact Award, spearheaded the 15th Annual Chicago Muslim Turkey Drive. With helping hands from the Mohammed Webb Foundation, Sabeel Pantry and IMAN, over 600 turkeys were distributed to local families on November 24th.

The success of a large-scale initiative like the Turkey Drive depends on a total team effort. IMAN organizers contacted residents and spread the word through our community partners. Youth leaders and Green ReEntry brothers provided crucial support as they unloaded, bagged and delivered turkeys. IMAN staff managed a high volume of calls and stayed after hours to accommodate late-comers.

Turkey Drive 2015In a media landscape that demonizes both Muslims and the inner-city neighborhoods such as the one that IMAN resides in, this year’s Chicago Muslim Turkey Drive countered that narrative by giving away a record 1,500 turkeys at three different sites.

Special thanks to our beloved community partners at Fairfield Elementary Academy for their support; over 120 turkeys were distributed at the school alone. For a complete photo recap of the Chicago Muslim Turkey Drive, visit our Facebook page.

Citywide Forum Preps Muslim Run Campaign for Big 2016

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.29.44 AMDespite heavy rain and dropping temperatures, an engaged group of over 100 stakeholders—from students to urban farmers—gathered on the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) campus for IMAN’s annual Food For Life Forum. The event was a major step forward for IMAN’s collaboration with two UIC entities: the Department of Kinesiology & Nutrition and the Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion.

Forum participants hailed from every side of the city, and examined food systems-related initiatives across Chicago and shared best practices. While IMAN has deepened its impact in this area through the Muslim Run Corner Store Campaign after years of organizing and advocacy, an increasingly holistic strategy must be developed as we work for a sustainable intervention model: everything from food procurement to land acquisition to community engagement.

This Forum’s highlights included an overview of the current landscape of corner store interventions presented by Dr. Angela Odoms-Young of UIC and Dr. Rami Nashashibi of IMAN. Three breakout sessions followed, each focused on a critical aspect of sustainable food work: developing effective farm-to-table models, promoting nutrition education, and mobilizing communities toward food justice. Longtime IMAN partners from Centers for New Horizons and UIC helped lead these sessions.

Building on the progress made at the latest Food For Life Forum, IMAN will continue to work with its allies to strengthen corner store and food-systems efforts across the city. In early December, a follow-up table discussion will deepen this conversation and refine strategies for 2016. To get involved in the Muslim Run Corner Store Campaign, please contact Manager & Lead Organizer Sara Hamdan (sara@imancentral.org).

 

Syria to the South Side: What a Refugee at IMAN Looks Like

faizaemailA corner store in the heart of Chicago’s South Side is not where most of the media attention around Syrian refugees in the US is focused, but that is often where you will find Faiza Kalam.

Faiza has been a key leader for IMAN’s corner store campaign since she recently arrived in the US as a refugee. As she pursues a Ph.D in Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Faiza has been integrally involved in IMAN’s efforts to transform corner stores into more holistic sites for healthy food access and community building.

While hateful and polarizing rhetoric scapegoating Syrian refugees intensifies in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, Faiza and many like her are deeply engaged with our communities. Meet Faiza and learn more about her work with IMAN’s corner store campaign at our Annual Fundraising Dinner on Saturday, December 12th.

Green ReEntry Graduates Reach New Heights

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After months of rigorous training and development, all five members of this year’s Green ReEntry cohort graduated from the program. On Thursday, November 12, the cohort came together one last time, dressed to impress in brand new suits, to celebrate their accomplishments with friends, family and community leaders.

Each graduate received a Green ReEntry certificate of completion, along with Level 1 Carpentry Certification from the National Center for Construction Education and Research. As they received their certificates, the group shared heartfelt reflections on their experiences in what became “more than just a job-training program.”

Before learning to green-retrofit homes, the Green ReEntry crew underwent eight weeks of intensive coursework focused on carpentry fundamentals. They also developed critical “soft skills” that deepened their understanding of how to navigate the employment landscape.

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 1.53.18 PMLongtime leader Nathaniel ‘Hasan’ Smith made Green ReEntry history: he became the first program participant to earn a general contractor’s license, and was hired full-time by the local WJ Management Company. The other four crew members are also pursuing stable employment with WJ Management.

Several notable public officials attended the graduation in support of the cohort, including U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, Cook County Commissioner Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia, State Senator Jacqueline Collins, Alderwoman Toni Foulkes. Each highlighted the powerful example of transformation that Green ReEntry program provides to communities both local and nationwide.

IMAN would like to thank the extraordinary funders whose support has made the Green ReEntry program’s growth possible: AlFaisal Without Borders Foundation, Islamic Relief USA, and the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.