On any given night, an estimated 700,000 people in America are homeless. Some 20% or more of these are families with children. Homeless families are the fastest growing segment of the Homeless population.
According to one recent survey, the Crisis of Homelessness in America affects some 3-4 Million Americans, annually. These are Americans who are Jewish, Catholic, Christians, Muslims and others.
Muslims Don’t Understand Homelessness:
In most Islamic societies, the immediate family or the extended family of other relatives are a Safety Net against Poverty and Homelessness. With the exception of War or natural disaster, the Islamic Family, like the Jewish and many Christian families takes care of it’s own.
That is not the situation for many people in America. Because of this cultural fact, many agencies have arisen in this country to help those in need. America’s history reflects that religious communities typically have been the most aggressive social institution in assisting those in trouble.
The National Interfaith Hospitality (IHN) Network:
This is a nonprofit organization. IHN encourages and empowers a network comprised of representatives from religious groups to form partnerships and to join forces in responding to the Homeless Crisis in America. It is a joint effort to help, not to proselytize.
What IHNs Do:
We accept families which have been referred to us and which have been carefully screened to participate in our program. Selected families are then sent to live in temporary housing spaces set aside in facilities of participating Synagogues, Parishes, Churches and Amassed. Under the direction and supervision of the IHN Director and the professional IHN staff, the selected families are housed for five days at each facility, in turn. There they spend the night together taking their meals and sleeping. During the day, the parent(s) of the Homeless family goes to the IHN office to use their resources to look for work and/or a home. After five days at one facility, the family and their belongings are relocated to the next facility, be it at a Church, parish or Masjid. They continue in this way until they find a home, usually after four to six weeks. We serve as many as four families in that time.
IHN Needs More Muslim Participation:
For various reasons, we are experiencing a significant increase in the number of Muslim families who are homeless. Many of these are from the Indigenous Muslim community But an increasing percentage are from Immigrant Muslim populations- Arabs, South East Asian, African and others. We have found that successful helping is facilitated where IHN staff and Volunteer diversity matches that of the Homeless families we serve.
What Do We Want You To Do?
We need Muslims to work as Volunteers in their local IHN. There, working with Jews, Catholics, Christians, and members of other faiths, we need Muslims to help us serve “All” of our homeless families as well as homeless Muslims families. Muslims who agree to volunteer to Serve and help the Homeless, may be asked to:
- Successfully undergo Volunteer Training by IHN staff
- Make a *Commitment to help
- Work cooperatively with Volunteers from other faiths to assist All homeless families, under the direction of the local IHN Director
- Provide cultural and religious needs and services to Muslim Families
- Mentor families - Listening, offering assistance, and offering guidance
- Serve as Driver, cook, Maintenance worker, etc.
- Provide and/or prepare food stores and cooked meals
- Baby sitting children while parents seek work and housing
- On-site Nighttime Monitor/Supervisor of housing facilities involving being available for assistance to families during non business hours
*A Commitment to volunteer can require as few as forty-eight (48) hours every three months. But we are asking Muslims to volunteer for as long as is productive and helpful. The length of the commitment is up to you.
For More information about The Homeless Crisis in America and about this project go to www.familypromise.org. (Family Promise is the Parent Agency of The National Interfaith Hospitality Network.) To be matched with an IHN near you, please contact me: Hajji Frederick Thaufeer al-Deen, Muslim Consultant: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call me at 773 418 0494 or send a Fax to 773 836 8422.
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