Muslims Gather to Support Viatorian Hospitality

Muslims Gather to Support Viatorian Hospitality May 28, 2019

It’s a historic evening at the Viatorian Province Center. Beyond the gently rolling lawn and tree-lined drive, the center’s customary calm is pervaded with a hum of excitement. A peek into the building’s meeting room reveals a flurry of dinner preparations. As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, guests of all faiths filter inside to a filled-to-capacity event, to join their Muslim friends and neighbors for a Ramadan iftar – a meal marking the end of a day of fasting from dawn to dusk.

Organized by six women from the Muslim community, this Iftar is significant for a number of reasons. It makes history by being the first of its kind to take place at the Viatorian Province Center – national headquarters of the Clerics of St. Viator – and serves as the first annual Iftar intended to bring the community together to raise awareness and funds for the Viator House of Hospitality (VHH) and Bethany House of Hospitality (BHH).

Founded in 2017, Viator House of Hospitality is an initiative intended to keep young, asylum-seeking men out of adult detention centers as they await legal processes. The Co-Directors Br. Gosch and Fr. Corey Brost and a team of dedicated volunteers, seek to provide these unaccompanied young men with “hope, healing, and opportunity” in a supportive living environment where they can attend school, improve their language skills, grow spiritually and emotionally, and receive medical attention. Similar work is being carried out by Sister Patricia Crowley and her team at Bethany House of Hospitality for unaccompanied young women.

When Anisha Ismail Patel heard about Viator House of Hospitality and Bethany House of Hospitality a year ago, she felt compelled to take action. “These young men and women are in our community, they are our neighbors…and truly we wanted to support them and be there for them and tonight we want you to hear their stories as well,” Patel tells the iftar guests. Now serving on the Viator House of Hospitality founding board, Patel partnered with friends not only to organize the iftar but also to launch a fundraising campaign for VHH and BHH. “The community’s response to the fundraising campaign was overwhelming,” says Farah Abid, a member of the planning committee. “We set out with a goal of $24k, but due to the incredible generosity of individuals from around the country, we exceeded our goal and raised nearly $35k and counting in the span of seven days.”

News of efforts to raise money for college scholarships, a family emergency fund, and Eid gifts for the residents at VHH even reached the ears of Enes Kanter, a professional basketball player with the Portland Trail Blazers. “The NBA Portland Trail Blazers player’s foundation is supporting a fundraising campaign that we have all been collectively working hard at in support of our community’s young men and women at Viator House of Hospitality and Bethany House!!” Patel exclaimed on Facebook following Kanter’s contribution.

At the iftar itself, Patel and her friends were joined by seven organizations from the Muslim community, including the leadership at the Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs, the Turkish American Society of Chicago, the Islamic Society of Midwest, UMMA Center, ICNA Relief Chicago and they also received interest for future collaboration from Muslim Women’s Alliance. “This joint Ramadan Iftar serves as a symbol of VHH’s commitment to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community to build bridges of understanding and inclusivity,” says Dr. Saima Azfar, director of operations for ICNA Relief’s Midwest Region. Dr. Rasha Ali, an ophthalmologist in Arlington Heights, who also served as an event co-host expresses that she is “so grateful to get the opportunity to collaborate with diverse faith partners to empower deserving young individuals.”

At the iftar itself, Patel and her friends were joined by seven organizations from the Muslim community, including the leadership at the Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs, the Turkish American Society of Chicago, the Islamic Society of Midwest, UMMA Center, ICNA Relief Chicago and they also received interest for future collaboration from Muslim Women’s Alliance. “This joint Ramadan Iftar serves as a symbol of VHH’s commitment to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community to build bridges of understanding and inclusivity,” says Dr. Saima Azfar, director of operations for ICNA Relief’s Midwest Region. Dr. Rasha Ali, an ophthalmologist in Arlington Heights, who also served as an event co-host expresses that she is “so grateful to get the opportunity to collaborate with diverse faith partners to empower deserving young individuals.”

“ICNA Relief Chicago is honored to partner with Viator House of Hospitality…We are proud to have a longstanding alliance with VHH and look forward to many more projects in the years to come. This joint Ramadan Iftar serves as a symbol of VHH’s commitment to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community to build bridges of understanding and inclusivity.” says Dr. Saima Azfar, director of operations for ICNA Relief’s Midwest Region.

“This whole project was done as a team effort through and through. Additionally, our community as they always do showed their compassion. Individuals and seven Muslim community organizations were present at the Ramadan dinner and others have extended their consistent support to the Viator House men and Bethany House women.” The leadership at the Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs, the Turkish American Society of Chicago, the Islamic Society of Midwest and Muslim Women Alliance have all shared their support and interest to collaborate consistently.

Dr. Rasha Ali, ophthalmologist in Arlington Heights, who also served as an event co-host expressed that, “She is so grateful to get the opportunity to collaborate with diverse faith partners to empower deserving young individuals.”

Guest post by Sara Ahmed


Browse Our Archives

Close Ad