On Friday, February 21, Senator Dick Durbin, IL’s senior and the nation’s second highest-ranking senator, spent two hours with IMAN, directly engaging its leaders and projects. Key IMAN allies and leaders from the Multifaith Housing Reclamation Campaign that IMAN led with the Jewish Council of Urban Affairs and the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) were also present for a brief lunch with the Senator before he took a tour of IMAN’s various projects. Senator Durbin was moved by the way leaders, residents and clergy from different faith traditions in the area have successfully mobilized to build power and demand change.
The Senator showed great interest in the current work being done on the second Green ReEntry home, and, in particular, discussed and shared ideas for how to take Green ReEntry to scale, and how this unique approach to tackling lack of decent housing, job skills, public safety, and effective reentry programs is needed in communities across the country. The Senator was also presented with plans for the future IMAN Health and Wellness campus, which IMAN hopes to have completed by its 20th Anniversary in 2017. The Senator showed particular interest in the planned Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) building, which will grow out of IMAN’s current Health Clinic and which will anchor the Health and Wellness campus centered. He was very impressed to learn of the larger Muslim community’s support for the work of the Clinic over the years and to discover how organizations such as Islamic Relief USA, the Mosque Foundation and Muslim families across Illinois and the country have been the primary funders of an effort that has touched thousands of uninsured and under-insured residents over the years.
Senator Durbin also took time during his visit to address congregants gathered that day for a special Jum’ah service led by Usama Canon. We hope that these visits from and contacts with the Senator and his office will continue, and that this cooperation will translate into a broadening of IMAN’s model of service and change in inner-cities.