Saturday, August 29, 2009

Aalia Ahmed

"I believe volunteering is the only way to define oneself, but any spot-light eradicates the act of any sincerity. So I try to keep volunteer activities between me and my Lord," says Aalia Ahmed.

However, as a RAP team member we know how much Aalia has done. She has taken refugees shopping for winter wear, helped distribute items, has organized and led field trips for refugee children to the Lincoln Park Zoo, a Chicago Fire soccer game, the Chicago Humanities Festivals and more. Last Ramadan, she made small goody-bags for the refugee kids and hand delivered them to each refugee child in the area. Most recently she was RAP's lead volunteer at the Ramadan Rush for Rewards Food Drive for Refugees at ICN Masjid in collaboration with other groups. She is also incharge of bookkeeping for RAP.

“Besides RAP, I have worked with other non-profit organizations, including Boy Scouts of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Chicago Neighborhood Housing Services. The most enjoyable experience was with Junior Achievement where I taught third graders about urban planning, stocks and saving bonds,” she says.

“For spiritual growth, I am a dedicated student of the Al-Maghrib Institute, and the Nawawi Foundation. Besides Islamic lectures and retreats, I enjoy outdoor activities with a group of Adventures Muslim Professionals. In my spare time I enjoy reading, walking, swimming, golf, and trips to museums and theaters. At home, I like to experiment with international cooking and gardening, while providing care for my elderly mother. I try to set aside time for my mother, like take her shopping, or catching a movie with her. Once a week we go out to eat, just the two of us to catch up on current happenings."

Aalia Ahmed is President of Advisor Solutions, Inc., an independent consulting firm based in Chicago, helping businesses achieve operational efficiencies. She has been in the financial industry for over 18 years. Prior to establishing her own business, she worked as VP of Operations for a mid-size Investment Advisory firm and managed retail branches for major financial institutions. She is currently furthering her education at a local university.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kiran Ansari Makes Volunteering a Family Affair


"I consider myself blessed to have found a volunteer opportunity with RAP," says Kiran Ansari. "My children, 7 and 4 have made friends with some of the Iraqi refugee children close to our home and I feel that experience is more rewarding than just arranging handouts. Whenever I visit the Iraqi refugees, their hospitality floors me each time. They welcome me with open arms. Perhaps, when someone comes to a new country, having a friend is at times even more important than having a fancy meal."

She feels that volunteering is a valuable experience for her whole family as her husband helps lift the heavy bags of rice and flour and the kids invited two of the Iraqi families to their Eid party last year and shared their toys too. She is indebted to her circle of friends and family who are always willing to help contribute food, clothes and even school supplies to the families.

"My friends are looking for legit places to donate to and I am looking for stuff to distribute, so it works out perfectly. May Allah accept it from each one of us."

Kiran Ansari is the Editor of the Chicago Crescent, the monthly publication of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. She was born in Pakistan, brought up in Dubai and now calls Chicago home. Kiran has been helping RAP for the past two years by collecting grocery and household items in her garage and then helping distribute them to refugees in the Western suburbs.

More Profiles to Come......

Sabina Abdul Qadir

Sabina Qadir, a mother of two and a lawyer by education, has been incredibly active in the Muslim and Non-Muslim Community in various roles.

Her efforts include chairing the ICN Girls Club for ages 8-12, serving as Director of Community Service on the MWA Board, organizing a plethora of community service events for IMAN, UMMA and MWA and creating a staple program related to Islam at her children's school - Avery Coonely.

AT AVERY COONLEY Besides doing Islam/ Eid presentations for the past 10 years at Avery Coonely in her children's classes, she began organizing Eid lunches for the staff, towards which all the Muslim parents at the school contributed. That combined with an educational "Show and Tell" component for the teachers, has grown to become a staple at the school. She has been invited back by staff to present beyond Eid, during Social Studies.

Sabina has organized annual food and Eid gift drives for UMMA, MWA and IMAN, for the needy. As Board Member and Director of Social Services at MWA she, most recently, organized 6 community service events in 6 weeks around and during Ramadan 2009.

Rush for Rewards included serving breakfast at a homeless shelter and having kids put on a talent show at a children's hospital. In the Muslim community, she organized an Iftaar at a SouthSide mosque, cleaned up a food pantry, spearheaded an Eid Grocery Drive for refugees and more. Several thousands of dollars worth of grocery were distributed/ collected as monetary donations. She ran this Eid Grocery Drive as a collaboration between Arab American Service Committee, MWA, ICN, Refugee Assistance Program and ICNA.

She has been with ICN girls club for 2 years as an organizer. Here she had the children volunteer and visit nursing homes for seniors, participate in a project for the organization "Feed my Starving Children", had the girls run a mock election, organized eid parties, arranged for the girls to take archery and more.