Green ReEntry Expands Outreach with New Staff

After years of helping returning citizens successfully reacclimate to their communities, the Green ReEntry program is poised to significantly deepen its impact. In partnership with the Emerson Collective, Green ReEntry has expanded the size of its cohorts from a handful of brothers to a dynamic, intergenerational group of over 30 men.

To facilitate the continued success of Green ReEntry participants, IMAN has hired three highly skilled full-time staff: Case Manager Billy Moore, and Case Workers Ali Kanoya and Gemali Ibrahim. We sat down with the new team to learn more about their stories and their vision for Green ReEntry’s future growth.

What does the Green ReEntry program have to offer?

Billy: We’re working with men who are really facing significant challenges to their wellbeing, so it’s imperative that our work has a positive impact. Our goal is to shift the way that these guys think about themselves and their communities, and we’ve developed a curriculum to achieve that by instilling values of brotherhood, professionalism and conflict resolution.

Ali: Life skills training is another key component. We speak a language the participants understand, and we grew up in similar communities to theirs. Our job is to be a guide and mentor to young brothers who haven’t had that luxury thus far in their lives.

What inspires you to get involved in this work? It’s far from easy.

Gemali: I feel the most spiritually attuned in those moments when I’m recognizing the interconnectedness of the human family. One of the ways God has shown me that He is real has been through brotherhood. Helping my fellow community members is a practice that’s been a part of my life since childhood. It’s in my DNA at this point, and I consider IMAN and the surrounding area to be my community.

Billy: Returning citizens looking to get back on track, avoid re-offending, and contribute positively to their communities must do so with extremely limited resources. This opportunity to serve others is a blessing, because I know all too well what it feels like to sit on the other side of the desk and need help successfully reintegrating into society. IMAN has been in the trenches for years now doing the work, directing significant resources to those who need them in a way that’s relevant and compassionate.

Ali: I will never forget a realization that I had during my final days of incarceration. I remember seeing intelligent, strong-willed, physically fit, and brave brothers all around me. It hurt to see the beauty of our community locked up like that. I wanted to see that beauty flourish back at home, doing something positive in the streets. I still want that, and Green ReEntry is the best outlet I’ve seen to accomplish that goal.

At this current moment in Chicago, why is the Green ReEntry program so necessary?

Ali: Chicago has been associated with gangs and violence for generations, but what can’t be forgotten is the fact that those traditions also included real valor and codes of ethics that people lived by. That legacy has worn away, and we see the youth in chaos on many levels as a result. All of these young guys aren’t monsters. That’s an artificial message that’s being promoted in the culture, but that’s not who these guys really are at their core. We need to reach back and encourage young men to develop a sense of accountability, perseverance and dignity. God willing, we can shift that culture.

Gemali: I remember meeting a brother at Ramadan Reflections. He said he refused to bring his children because he wasn’t sure about “what kind of neighborhood IMAN is in.” He lives maybe 30 minutes from the office. That affected me, because of how much I love this city and the relationships that I’ve built here. But, if you turn on the TV, you understand how he can feel that fear. I am inspired by the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as he first entered the city of Medina. He instructed the people to spread peace, feed the hungry, and spend time at night in prayer. We need to reflect more deeply on the fact that he said “spread peace” first.

Billy: Chicago is a world-class city, there’s no denying that. But, what is becoming clearer even in mainstream media is that the story of Chicago, in reality, is a tale of two cities. The wellbeing of our part of the city isn’t prioritized. You hear about the violence and the homicides, the 40% unemployment among young men in Englewood, the 54 closed schools, and the underrepresentation of Black-owned businesses. Legislators and other officials play a role, but programs like Green ReEntry are what really empower individuals and families to take control over their lives in a meaningful way.

IMAN Staff Doubles Down on Cultivation

IMAN prides itself in cultivating a deep bench of skilled staff and engaged leaders, recognizing the value of empowering each member of the organization to truly embody health, wellness and healing in their own unique way. This past month, the IMAN family made tremendous strides in both personal and professional development.

During the sacred month of Ramadan, IMAN youth leaders and senior staff took a road trip to Centralia, Illinois for a weekend of bonding and rejuvenation. Graciously hosted by a family of longtime supporters, the group spent time in spiritual reflection, enjoying and exploring nature, and connecting with one another’s stories in more profound ways. For some of the younger travelers, this was their first venture to downstate Illinois.

IMAN Executive Assistant Ammiel Mateen and Director of Community Relations Alia Bilal each completed university-based certificate programs last month that significantly enhanced their respective skill sets. Ammiel finished an intensive Human Resources course at DePaul University wherein she studied workforce development and risk management practices. Alia graduated from the highly selective Civic Leadership Academy program at the University of Chicago, further positioning herself as a leader in the city’s civic community.

In the fall, Muslim Run Corner Store Campaign Manager Sara Hamdan will begin her studies at the University of Chicago as well. Sara was accepted into the School of Social Service Administration, one of the nation’s premier social work and social welfare programs. Especially in the current socio-political climate, such opportunities to bolster skills while exploring emerging theories and understanding will only serve to prepare staff to become innovative leaders in the near future.

Atlanta Green ReEntry Graduation

Earlier this year, five returning citizens in Atlanta joined Green ReEntry, an intensive, 12-week training and education course in plumbing and project management offered by Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Green ReEntry offers support to formerly incarcerated individuals facing barriers to employment, and has been a cornerstone of IMAN’s work since the organization’s inception 20 years ago.

Green ReEntry manager and master plumber, Jermaine Shareef, was teacher and mentor to these five hard-working men. Four of the five completed the program. Tariq Baiyina, Qawi Clark Gerald, Malik Bradley Brantley, and Karim Andrew Vance all disprove the stigmas and stereotypes that are hurtfully attached to the formerly incarcerated. Mr. Tariq Abdullah, a community leader and the CEO of Tarchitects LLC, led seminars on project management, during which the Green ReEntry crew directly applied their newly acquired knowledge and skills to create IMAN Atlanta’s new program office located at 1007 Cascade Ave SW.

On Sunday, May 21, 2017 with a full audience, the crew successfully graduated from the Green ReEntry program and proved that they are greater than what our current criminal justice climate may have us believe. They are committed leaders and inspiring role models dedicated to transforming neglected neighborhoods into flourishing communities wherein our youth can feel safe and supported. The crew is dedicated to fostering the loving environments that were denied to them.

Family, friends, and fellow community members joined in the special graduation ceremony. IMAN Atlanta Director, Imam Mansoor Sabree, and Advisory Committee Chair, Sameera Fazili, attested to the power and strength of these extraordinary men, and the tremendous potential of Green ReEntry to push the criminal justice reform movement forward.

Other special guests in attendance were Dr. Rami Nashashibi, IMAN Executive Director , Alia Bilal, IMAN Director of Community Relations, and Mama Sol, a spoken word artist and activist from Atlanta, who elevated the spirit of #FightFearBuildPower through her poetry performances .

To learn more about IMAN Atlanta; please visit imancentral.org and ‘like’ IMAN Atlanta on Facebook to stay connected and support future Green ReEntry programs and activities.

IMAN Atlanta’s Green ReEntry: A Bold Intervention

Early this year, five of Atlanta’s returning citizens joined Green ReEntry, an intensive, 12-week training and education course in plumbing and project management offered by Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) in Atlanta. Green ReEntry offers support to formerly incarcerated individuals facing barriers to employment, and has been a cornerstone of IMAN’s work since the organization’s inception 20 years ago.

Green ReEntry manager and master plumber, Jermaine Shareef, was teacher and mentor to these five hard-working men. Four of the five completed the program. Tariq Baiyina, Qawi Clark Gerald, Malik Bradley Brantley, and Karim Andrew Vance all disprove the stigmas and stereotypes that are hurtfully attached to the formerly incarcerated. Mr. Tariq Abdullah, a community leader and the CEO of Tarchitects LLC, led seminars on project management, during which the Green ReEntry crew directly applied their newly acquired knowledge and skills to create IMAN Atlanta’s new program office located at 1007 Cascade Ave SW.

On Sunday, May 21, 2017 with a full audience, the crew successfully graduated from the Green ReEntry program and proved that they are greater than what our current criminal justice climate have us believe. They are committed leaders and inspiring role models dedicated to transforming neglected neighborhoods into flourishing communities our youth can feel safe and supported. The crew is dedicated to fostering the loving environments that were denied to them.

Family, friends, and fellow community members joined in the special graduation ceremony. IMAN Atlanta Director, Imam Mansoor Sabree, and Advisory Committee Chair, Sameera Fazili, attested to the power and strength of these extraordinary men, and the tremendous potential of Green ReEntry to push criminal justice reform movement forward.

Other special guests in attendance were Dr. Rami Nashashibi, IMAN Executive Director , Alia Bilal, IMAN Director of Community Relations, and Mama Sol, a spoken word artist and activist from Atlanta, who elevated the spirit of #FightFearBuildPower through her poetry performances.

To learn more about IMAN Atlanta; please visit imancentral.org and ‘like’ IMAN Atlanta on Facebook to stay connected and support future Green ReEntry programs and activities.