The Way of A Warrior: IMAN, the Last 10 Days and the NBA Champions

Four years ago I packed up and moved my family from Chicago to Oakland to become General Counsel and Vice President of an up-and-coming team in the NBA known as the Golden State Warriors.  As you may have heard, our team recently won the NBA Championship and, as you can imagine, I am elated.Cap D GSW

While my family and I have been in full celebration mode with the rest of the team this last month, we have also been in full Ramadan mode, remembering those special things that go beyond any sports championship.  More specifically, I have been thinking about IMAN, an organization that embodies the merciful spirit of Ramadan all year round that drew me to it almost 15 years ago.

Serving community through initiatives such as its dynamic health clinic, organizing for positive change and cultivating the arts all spoke to what I continue to believe is at the heart of our creative, merciful and dynamic tradition.  Being an effective force for good, mercy and hope in the inner city has allowed IMAN’s model to resonate with so many across the country.  From running its own farmers’ market to reclaiming vacant and vandalized buildings as centers for job training and housing for the formerly incarcerated, IMAN continues to forge forward with this inspiring model.

Championing that model is something that I am passionate about and still remains at the heart of my connection to the larger Muslim community.

As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan, I am excited to inform you that a generous supporter has offered to match your donation from now until the end of Ramadan. Please join me in leveraging this match to sustain, deepen and grow this important work with your Zakat-eligible and tax-deductible donation today. 

Yours Truly,
David Kelly
IMAN Advisory Board Member

 

Converting the Corner

There is a corner on the 6200 block of South Fairfield that has seen its share of life and death. Five years ago, this corner was the stage of persistent violence and mayhem for residents and families attending Fairfield Elementary School. It was also home to a two-flat apartment that lay vandalized and abandoned — the scene of gang activity, drug trafficking, and a tragic sexual assault. Two years later, a neighborhood resident delivering pizza on the block was shot and killed on this very corner. cornerFairfield

Today, that abandoned drug-house is a beautifully renovated apartment building, home to two IMAN leaders and their families. Right now, the new IMAN Green ReEntry crew is doing construction on one of two more houses that are intended to become the first-time homes of those two leaders.

After several years of organizing with our larger community to reclaim that corner, we’ve cut the ribbon on the Fairfield building and our block has become one of the area’s safest. It has taken many years and much pain, but this story of one corner on one block is the story of how hundreds of lives can be powerfully and profoundly impacted.

This transformation is possible, but it’s not easy work and we definitely can’t do it without your support! We ask you to please give generously to IMAN’s 2015 Ramadan Drive so we can continue to transform lives, one corner at a time.

“This Is Literally Killing Us”

Over a decade ago, researchers like Mari Gallagher asserted that “food deserts” were literally killing Chicagoans—mostly low-income African-Americans living across the South and West Sides.

“Flamin’ Hots” and other such products serve as meal substitutes for thousands of families who are only able to access corner stores and “food & liquor” establishments. This reality led one IMAN youth leader to affirm that “this is literally killing us.”Muslim Run 2015

IMAN has galvanized its unique position to work toward a grassroots solution to this crisis. The Muslim Run campaign addresses the highly problematic business practices of these stores, as well as the gaping lack of community access to healthy foods and wellness education.

This past year, the City of Chicago identified IMAN’s work on this issue as a model. To date, the Muslim Run team has logged thousands of hours engaging residents, corner store owners, politicians and community leaders; built a network of 33 partnering corner stores across the South and West Sides; opened up a unique farmers’ market; and has begun establishing a replicable “corner store conversion” model we have presented across the country.

Our vision for this work is greater than confronting the grim realities about life expectancy and fresh food access in the inner-city. Ultimately, as with all our work, we’re striving to demonstrate the transformative impact united communities can have by organizing for change at the grassroots level.

Please do all you can during these last days of Ramadan to make your tax-deductible and zakat-eligible donations to IMAN.