Islamic Relief USA Gala Celebrates Teamwork and Community

The Power of Building Bridges is hall-marked by IRUSA Partnership Gala

Board of One America Movement Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune

Celebrating the work made possible through alliances with other organizations, Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) hosted its 3rd annual Partnership Gala on Tuesday, Dec. 10, at the Georgetown Marriott in Washington, D.C. 

“This is one of my favorite nights of the year,” said Anwar Khan, president of IRUSA. “Tonight is a celebration of love.” 

IRUSA VP of Community Affairs Azhar Azeez, IRUSA CEO Sharif Aly,
Congressman John Yarmuth, IRUSA President Anwar Khan

The theme of this year’s gala, “Building Bridges, Creating Community” was aptly symbolized by individuals from different faith-based groups and other entities crossing a small garden bridge to reach the podium and collect their awards. 

This year, IRUSA recognized organizations it worked with and to who it awarded some of its Silver Anniversary grants. For example, one group, Peace Catalyst, which focuses on building relationships between Muslims and evangelical Christians used the funds to organize “The Big Table,” which was described as one of the largest potluck lunches in the country, if not the world.

Clips of that event — along with work done by another organization (One America) in rebuilding homes in Puerto Rico that were destroyed by Hurricane Maria– were played to an audience of about 150 guests.   

“It takes two sides to make a bridge; hope and help,” said Imam Talib M. Sharif.

Sharif Aly, chief executive officer of IRUSA, said it’s only through teamwork that meaningful changes are made in the lives of the most vulnerable people. 

“Our efforts can only do so much,” Aly said. “We can’t do it alone. We need others. We need to work together.”

IRUSA CEO Sharif Aly

Without cooperation, Aly said, “Those voices would not be heard to the magnitude they need to be heard.”

Khaled Lamada, chairman of IRUSA’s Board of Directors, said it was through the critical support of the different faith-based and humanitarian organizations that enabled IRUSA to successfully provide sustainable assistance and foster tolerance in communities. He cited the water and food distribution IRUSA conducted in Flint, Mich. during the 2016 lead water crisis. 

That collaboration, he said, showed that groups can look beyond each other’s race, religion, and political affiliation and make positive changes. 

“This is a true celebration of the tremendous work and impact in helping the most vulnerable,” the chairman said.

The Rev. David Beckman, president of Bread for the World, a longtime working partner of Islamic Relief USA, highlighted IRUSA’s significant role.

“They work where most relief agencies can’t work,” he said. “They just reach out to everybody.”

Beckman also mentioned the “dutiful” role IRUSA has played in advocating the federal government to play a more active role in reducing poverty and hunger. 

“I’m most grateful the folks at Islamic Relief are my friends,” he said. 

IRUSA President Anwar Khan,
President Bread for the World Rev. David Beckmann
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