Sitting and Suffering

Last year, there was a woman in our community who’d spent months on our waiting list for behavioral health services. When we were finally able to bring her in, our staff discovered that she had been considering hurting her family members. Thankfully, we were able to treat her before any harm came to her or her family.

Cases like this highlight the critical need to get community members struggling with mental and emotional health issues off of these waiting lists. Myriad studies have shown that, like other resources, mental health services continue to be significantly inaccessible to low-income families. IMAN’s current behavioral health waitlist is four months for English speakers, and six months for Spanish speakers. This is far too long to wait for someone who is sitting and suffering through pain and trauma.

My team of specialists and I give our all in support of each patient who walks through our doors. We assist individuals and families in processing and healing from years of untreated trauma and devastating pain. We celebrate their tremendous progress when they leave us after receiving care.

But there are still far too many people on that list.

Your support means increased access to health services for those who would otherwise continue to sit and suffer alone. Please help us reach and exceed our ‘Off the List, On the Love’ Ramadan Drive goal. Your tax-deductible, zakat-eligible donations are crucial acts of love and solidarity as we push toward a world where waiting lists like this don’t have to exist.

Salaam,
Natali Rehman
IMAN Behavioral Health Manager

They Murdered My Father, His Dreams Live On

Six months ago, I received the worst call of my life informing me that my father had been shot and killed in his car.

I hadn’t even made it to the hospital before I heard word on the street and on social media about who was going to be killed in retaliation for my father’s death. His funeral was filled with police officers. A police helicopter even followed us all the way to the gravesite and hovered over us as we put my father’s body into the ground.

Yes, my father was a known leader of a street organization, but he was also a man who wanted the best for his family. He beamed with pride when I told him I had been accepted into IMAN’s Green ReEntry program, which would teach me a trade, help me develop life skills and give me the chance to rebuild vacant and vandalized homes. After my father was murdered, I knew that if I didn’t leave Chicago, I would get sucked into the cycle of violence that he had wanted me to avoid.

My Green ReEntry case worker advocated for me to get out of Chicago, and I spent two weeks in an exchange program with the second cohort of Green ReEntry participants at IMAN Atlanta. The Atlanta team greeted me with the love I needed at that time. They housed, fed, and engaged me from the moment I got off the plane.

I felt so grateful, but also a little guilty. I knew how many more people like me needed the same love and opportunity I had received. A close friend of mine had also fled from Chicago to Atlanta after violent circumstances put his life at risk. He was frustrated by the lack of opportunities for growth and development, so I asked the IMAN Atlanta team if he could join the Green ReEntry program. My friend not only graduated from the program two months ago, but was offered a job connected to the program due to his high performance.

I am not Muslim and knew nothing about Muslims growing up, but I’ve taken the opportunity to fast several days alongside my brothers and sisters at IMAN this Ramadan. Two days ago, I broke my fast in Atlanta with Dr. Sherman Jackson and a beautiful group of people who came out to support IMAN’s ‘Off The List, On The Love’ Ramadan Drive. I was blown away by the fact that IMAN is not only do amazing things with health, re-entry, organizing and the arts in Chicago, but now also has a full model with amazing people growing in Atlanta.

My experience with IMAN has changed the entire course of my life and, as I prepare for my own Green ReEntry graduation this November, I hope to take the skills I’ve learned to the next level and earn an electrical engineering degree. However, I am still very worried about my younger siblings as we approach the hot, violent summer months. My 19-year-old brother is one of the 187 people on the Green ReEntry waiting list desperately trying to get into the program. I believe that this may be one of the only real chances my brother has to start on the path towards success that my father dreamed of for his children.

I am calling on all of you to help us reach and exceed our ‘Off The List, On The Love’ Ramadan Drive goal. Your tax-deductible and zakat-eligible donations are critical, so more people like my brother can get off the list and on the path where the love, blessings and beauty of our community will provide him with everything he needs to succeed.

Much Love,
Antonio

I Know What It’s Like

I’m Katie Marciniak, IMAN’s youngest board member, and I have been deeply and personally impacted by this year’s critical ‘Off the List, On the Love’ Ramadan Drive.

I know firsthand what it’s like to be on a list associated with failure and frustration, a list meaning that folks have given up on you. I graduated from Gage Park High School in Chicago, a school constantly under threat of being shut down because we were “under-enrolled” or “underperforming”.

The Southwest Side is my home, where I was born and raised. Alongside my high school classmates, I was blessed to engage in impactful activism that led me to discover IMAN. As an IMAN organizer, I have helped to mobilize community members to build the city’s first permanent memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Chicago Freedom Movement; increase local access to fresh foods via our Corner Store Campaign; and I’ve worked at the board level to continue building IMAN as an organization proactively responding to the intense needs of the community.

Unfortunately, those needs and challenges too often result in our people being on all the wrong lists. There are nearly 200 men on the waiting list to get into our Green ReEntry program right now, dozens of people waiting up to six months to receive behavioral health services, and hundreds of returning citizens who are currently waiting to be removed from an unfair registry list.

Saturday, May 19th would have been Malcolm X’s 93rd birthday and while our staff in Atlanta and Chicago gathered to reflect on his legacy and its connection to our work on that day, I represented IMAN in Washington D.C. at a national convening of organizers engaging the most pressing social justice issues of our time. I was incredibly moved by the transformational love that drives these organizers to continue courageously uplifting their communities, and felt proud to be doing that work at IMAN.

Your support helps to power our continued efforts to remove barriers to health, wellness and healing. As we all seek the blessings of Ramadan, please consider making a tax-deductible, zakat-eligible donation to our Ramadan Fundraising Drive.

Salaam,
Katie

Ramadan Events 2018

Refresh the Hood
Tuesdays and Thursdays | 2-4 PM

Throughout the month, our Corner Store Campaign organizers and leaders distribute free smoothies and sell subsidized produce at local stores, while engaging residents with nutritional cooking demonstrations and information sessions. Contact organize@imancentral.org to join this campaign! Thank you to our Refresh the Hood partners, MURAL and Al Bawadi Grill.

Ramadan Reflections
Wednesdays | 6:30 PM
Followed by iftar dinner

Gather with fellow community members for an evening of relationship building and insightful discussion. This year’s Ramadan Reflections series will revolve around the power of storytelling, and IMAN leaders will facilitate activities helping to deepen the bonds that connect us. Each Ramadan Reflections concludes with a healthy iftar dinner.

Annual Community Iftar
Wednesday, June 13 | 6 PM

IMAN’s Annual Community Iftar brings a diverse cross-section of families, friends and residents together for an evening of engagement and reflection. The night also includes a healthy iftar dinner and taraweeh (night) prayer under the stars. The Annual Community Iftar in many ways embodies the spirit of IMAN–fostering holistic health, wellness and healing in the heart of one of Chicago’s most vibrant inner-city neighborhoods.