Local Seniors Learn Self-Defense

This month’s Senior Wellness Luncheon hosted by the Health Center, focused on providing senior citizens with ways to protect themselves in dangerous situations. Ramy Daoud, owner and head coach of Phoenix Sports Empire in Naperville, introduced the seniors to basic self-defense techniques during the hour-long session. Seniors learned various blocking methods and proper movements to handle and escape a potential attacker. Those in attendance were excited to try something new and felt that learning self-defense skills is extremely useful in today’s environment.

“I have been attacked from behind,” said Jean Davis a 70-year-old attendee who travels to IMAN from suburban Lansing to attend the monthly luncheons, “Nowadays they are attacking everybody, they don’t care.”

The self-defense lesson also included methods for seniors with limited mobility like Rosemary Meriweather, a 66-year-old grandmother using a rollator walker who feared the hands-on session would not be useful to someone like her, “He showed me what I can do”.

Meriweather has been attending IMAN’s luncheons for over a year and says she enjoys coming each month and always leaves with something informative—from recipes to life tips, like how to protect herself and her family. “I am raising two granddaughters and I’m going to teach them some of these moves.”

Self-defense is extremely important, specifically for older adults as they are seen as a vulnerable population. Participants were asked topics of interest and self-defense rated amongst the highest. Instructor Daoud, who has been doing martial arts for 25 years and currently works as a professional fighter, says it is a skill everyone should have and he looks forward to returning to IMAN to lead more sessions.

The senior luncheon highlights a sense of purpose, feelings of belongings, increased self-esteem, confidence and improved physical and mental health. The luncheon allows participants to nurture their soul by socializing, keeping active and building connections with others in the community.

MLK ‘Day of Action’ Honors Legacy, Engages Residents

This MLK Day, dozens of leaders took to Marquette Park’s streets to strengthen their relationships with local residents and build new bonds with neighbors not yet connected to IMAN’s work. As a gesture of appreciation and a continuation of Dr. King’s call for a “beloved community”, organizers led the assembly and distribution of 200 MLK Legacy Bags filled with bus passes, warm blankets and informational materials to families within a half-mile of IMAN’s Chicago office. Also included in each Legacy Bag was a graphic representation of the political and social demands that Dr. King famously nailed to the door of Chicago’s City Hall in 1966; residents were encouraged to reflect on the progress made on those demands since that historic day.

Steady snow fell throughout the morning as the teams of leaders made their rounds. They were joined by the entire cohort of Green ReEntry brothers, who provided complimentary snow shoveling service to each block. Following the day’s outreach efforts, both the cohort and leaders enjoyed the opportunity to share one another’s stories over lunch. The discussion was guided by IMAN organizers Shamar Hemphill and Sara Hamdan, and centered on the relevance of King’s Chicago campaigns to their present-day lived experiences.

As IMAN honors the enduring legacy of Dr. King, we also lift up the life and impact of a beloved educator and mentor to young students across Chicago’s Southwest Side: Mr. Victor Harbison. A long time civics and history teacher at nearby Gage Park High School where many of IMAN’s youth leaders were his students, Harbison recently passed away. His passion for justice and pride in developing young leaders rooted in the community was felt by all who were fortunate to have known him. Harbison played a key role in the establishment of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial. Alongside his students, he spearheaded an archival project highlighting Dr. King’s seminal 1966 housing march through Marquette Park. Their research and diligence laid the foundation for the memorial which today stands as a testament to the grassroots organizing tradition. Please click here to learn more about Mr. Harbison’s preservation of this history, and keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Community Health Center Expands Services

True to IMAN’s mission of fostering health, wellness and healing, the Community Health Center enjoyed significant growth in both facilities and personnel in 2017. Through a partnership with Islamic Relief USA, the Youth & Family Health Center opened in the fall to offer direct services to some of the community’s most vulnerable individuals. As our reach expanded, IMAN hired several additional health providers and administrative staff to better serve patients. The staff now features seven full-time equivalents and seven volunteer medical providers.

The Community Health Center successfully applied as a Federally Qualified Health Center “lookalike”, and was given a passing grade upon initial review. This represents a major step forward in the Health Center’s evolution from a free clinic into a full-fledged, federally qualified operation offering a wide range of healthcare options to underserved communities. With over 3,700 patient visits this year, the possibilities for deeper, more prevention-centered levels of care are sky high.

In addition to primary care, IMAN’s Behavioral Health saw 1,200 patients in 2017. The dynamic team of licensed counselors, social workers and bright young interns integrated their healing techniques into programs ranging from Green ReEntry to the Beloved Community Ceramic Arts Studio. The recently formed partnership between IMAN and the Chicago Muslim Dental Society (CMDS) yielded significant, mutual benefits. After the formal launch of a biweekly “working group” last month, IMAN’s Oral Health work has received crucial advice on best practices, generous donations of industry-standard equipment, and a growing pool of volunteer dentists.

We ask you to keep the efforts of all of IMAN’s holistic healthcare staff in your prayers as they continue to serve the Chicagoland community. Interested volunteers and interns should contact info@imancentral.org for more information. We ask The Most High to make us worthy of your continued support.

2017 Year-End: Green ReEntry

Green ReEntry experienced unprecedented growth in 2017, with over 50 men honing construction skills, learning money management practices and utilizing behavioral health support as part of a holistic array of services for returning citizens. IMAN’s deepening impact in Atlanta was powerfully reflected by the successful matriculation of its first Green ReEntry cohort. The five pioneering brothers completed months of coursework, several project management seminars, and played pivotal roles in the full renovation of IMAN Atlanta’s new headquarters.

Through the generous support of two new partners (Chicago Beyond and Chicago CRED), Green ReEntry saw unprecedented growth in the Windy City. Over 30 men signed on for a yearlong commitment, forming a dynamic, intergenerational brotherhood that demonstrated their tremendous potential to positively transform their lives and communities. Many cohort members passed examinations in HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) and in Occupational Safety & Health, both of which are vital beginning steps along future career paths. Guest speakers and local professionals led the cohort through weekly “soft skills” courses on financial literacy, while several cohort members took advantage of early-morning academic sessions in pursuit of their high school degree equivalency.

In the fall, IMAN opened its first Green ReEntry Youth Leadership Home, which provides full-spectrum support for young men navigating the myriad challenges facing communities on Chicago’s South and West Sides. The Youth Leadership Home quickly reached full capacity, and its residents have filled the space with both laughter and deep insight. With the addition of this home, Green ReEntry now provides a stable base for both adult returning citizens and youth to realize their God-given gifts and develop into shining lights dedicated to service.

Re-entry work has long been at the core of IMAN’s mission, and we anticipate even greater strides being made in 2018. Atlanta’s program continues to build on the incredible momentum set in motion by its inaugural cohort, while the brothers in Chicago push ahead and reclaim their communities block by block.