Off the List, On the Love

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Too many of our beloved sisters and brothers find themselves on all the wrong lists: on waiting lists to access desperately needed housing, mental health services and employment opportunities; on poverty and hunger index lists; and on criminal lists and registries that perpetually punish individuals, families and entire neighborhoods. These lists contribute to our lack of racial and social equity, and are ultimately rooted in a lack of love.

The blessed month of Ramadan is upon us, and in it, we are called to deepen our consciousness of The Divine and strengthen our bonds of mutual love. A Prophetic tradition challenges us to attain true faith by loving for our community that which we love for ourselves.

This month, we will be attempting to raise $1,500,000 during our ‘Off the List, On the Love’: 2018 Ramadan Fundraising Drive. These funds are absolutely vital to our ability to get our sisters and brothers off of lists that strip them of dignity and agency, and onto a path defined by love, opportunity and a shared vision of what our world could look like.

As always, you have a crucial role to play in this. We ask that you continue to keep IMAN’s efforts in your thoughts and prayers and that you donate generously to help us meet and exceed our goal. All contributions are zakat-eligible and tax-deductible, and can be made via check, stock, cash, or online at our website.

We pray that your support this month lists you among those who have earned the ultimate pleasure and mercy of The Most High.

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.