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US Faiths Feed Oregon Homeless

Published: 01/10/2013 12:22:43 PM GMT
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OREGON - Sending a message of hope and unity, an Islamic Social services organization has joined hands with Jewish and Christian groups to offer help to Portland homeless. Today is about knowing each otherâ€&brv (more)

OREGON - Sending a message of hope and unity, an Islamic Social services organization has joined hands with Jewish and Christian groups to offer help to Portland homeless.

"Today is about knowing each other… We have to do this to show who we are,” Laila Hajoo, a chief organizer, told Oregon Live on Sunday, September 22.

“The good is going to fight the bad. It's a matter of sticking to what you believe. The violence is about politics, not for religious reasons.

“It's about power and politics. It's not about human rights, human dignity and human well-being. If you take a look at all religions, it's love and care of the human being.”

Standing ready for help as the previous years, the Islamic Social Services of Oregon was accompanied with, Jewish Family & Child Service and, for the first time, the Catholic-run Society of St. Vincent de Paul to emphasize unity.

The Muslim program, Day of Dignity, which went nationwide ten years ago, aims at serving homeless and vulnerable Americans, whether Muslim or not.

It is part of a nation-wide effort to serve more thousands of homeless and people in need in different cities throughout the United States.

People receive health screenings, free food, and a variety of goods depending on their particular city.

During the event, which was held in the North Park Blocks, hot chili, haircuts, flu shots, hygiene items, rain ponchos and knitted hats were offered to hundreds of homeless men, women and children.

Attended by 43 young volunteers, the event gathered efforts of followers of different faiths working together to help the vulnerable.

"We all have the same intention, but when we partner, we have greater impact." said Anna Plaster, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul

"It goes to the root of the human spirit," said Maria Rehbach, emergency aid coordinator for Jewish Family & Child Service.

"Our gods teach us to help those less fortunate."

As president of Islamic Social Services of Oregon, Hajoo represents 10,000 Muslims in Oregon, serving refugees, families in crisis and people who need assistance.

Hajoo, the chief organizer, said that the event followed Nairobi's deadly attacks, where Somalia's Al-Shabab killed scores, to show the true- face of Islam.

The event served more than 500 people in 2012, but this year the numbers were down slightly because of the weather and rain, Hajoo said.


People were grateful for the charity event and the giveaways, reflecting solid interfaith relations.

“Everybody here is so friendly,” said Jermaine Tayvies, who received a free haircut by volunteer.

He added that they don't have this level of services in New York.

Paul Fausnaught, 58, a former carpenter, who discovered the event while passing by the area, also praised the event for helping the needy.

"It's wonderful. Just 'cause we're down here doesn't mean we deserve to be here,” Fausnaught said.

“Things happen sometimes. Once you've been homeless, it's hard to get back out if you don't know anybody."

The volunteers, too, expressed their joy for making a change in their societies.

"It was fun," said Fatima Rasheed-Gaters, 7, who did some of the handing out.

"I'm surprised how many people came," her brother, Ricky Gaters, 13, added.

Since the 9/11 attacks, US Muslims have complained of discrimination and stereotypes because of their Islamic attires or identities.

Despite the frenzy, they seized the opportunity to introduce a true message of Islam, through activism.

Extending new bridges into the community, new groups were established, such as American Muslim Voice, founded by Samina Sundas of Palo Alto.

There is also the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was founded to help Muslims engage with their neighbors in civic life.

Reproduced with permission from