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Friday, October 29, 2010

'Day of Dignity' Serves Impoverished in New York City's Brooklyn and Manhattan

New York, New York
Karim Amin

Every time I drive past Exit 9 on the New Jersey turnpike, I feel a shot of energy. The air, traffic and scenery transforms: The autumn-colored trees and rest stops that line the highway are replaced by sprawling buildings and billboards. My mindset changes to a New York state of mind. But underneath all the bright lights of Broadway and the massive bridges that connect this metropolis are the often unheard stories of people in need.

This is the sixth year that Islamic Relief USA hosted Day of Dignity in New York. The weekend of events kicked off in Brooklyn at Masjid Al-Taqwa, the home of Imam Siraj Wahaj. Dozens of volunteers from all over the city converged on this historic mosque to serve the community. The line wrapped around the building. Recipients received basic health check-ups, clothing and food.

Each beneficiary was greeted at the end of the line with a warm meal and drink. Toward the end of the event, Imam Siraj Wahaj stopped by his mosque and provided a boost of energy to the volunteers who had worked so hard to organize this event.

The next day started with the same energy as the first. Recipients lined up outside of the Saint Francis Xavier Church in midtown Manhattan. As some of the city’s homeless and working poor entered the building, they were welcomed with goods and meals.

“This is a great example of interfaith work,” said a St. Xavier staff member. “There are Muslims organizing an event at a Catholic church, with donations (book bags and school kits) from the Mormon church with Jewish volunteers.”

That is the beauty of Day of Dignity. It marries dignity with giving and brings together diverse groups for a common cause — to simply help those who need it, no matter where they are from or where they are going.

--Karim Amin is IR USA's Day of Dignity and domestic programs coordinator
photo: Bilal Aslam
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