Proclamation made during the Grand Opening ceremony of IRUSA’s Houston facility and Day of Dignity event.
The City of Houston has a lot going for it. A vibrant downtown, great diversity (Muslims will feel very welcome with its numerous halal restaurants and mosques), and relatively low gas prices (just $2.89 per gallon of regular unleaded at one Mobil station not too far from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport).
Now, the city has something else to celebrate; a new Islamic Relief USA building. The nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization held a grand opening ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 23, for its new volunteer dormitory on Lee Road in North Houston. The facility will enable the organization, as well as partner disaster relief groups, to conduct more rebuilding projects following major disasters, such as it did following Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
The nearly 10,000-square-foot facility comprises of rooms with bunk beds, sitting area, kitchen, laundry room, and a large room that will serve as a staging area and event space. Some 40 volunteers can bunk at one time.
“It’s really a blessing to be with all of you today,” said Sharif Aly, chief executive officer at IRUSA. He recalled how he was in Houston with IRUSA board members four years ago and how they discussed about making an impact in the country’s fourth-largest city. Soon thereafter, IRUSA volunteers helped rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. Now, with the dormitory finally in place, there are even more possibilities for impactful work. Most of all, it helps fulfill the moral obligation of taking care of our neighbors.
At the ceremony, IRUSA was presented with a proclamation signed by Commissioner Adrian Garcia, of Precinct 2 in Harris County, declaring Oct. 23, “Islamic Relief USA Day.” It was a tremendous honor to receive this recognition from a part of the community IRUSA is motivated to help.
The surrounding neighborhood may look distressed, but the dorm will serve as a linchpin for us and like-minded organizations to build back better, to use a popular phrase these days. One of the groups that attended the celebration was SBP, a disaster relief organization
As Mark Smith, executive director at SBP’s Houston operation. “IRUSA and its volunteers have provided critical support to some of the most vulnerable and heavily impacted families in our region who may not have been able to recover without our organizations working in tandem. We look forward to continuing to partner to serve even more residents in the years to come.”
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, IRUSA went right to work by holding its first Houston Day of Dignity. Set up a drive-thru event, people who came by were given books for their kids, backpacks, hand sanitizer, socks, Covid-19 screenings and pamphlets containing information on relevant services. Staffers and volunteers stayed on scene throughout the long afternoon, which was marked by both blazing sun and heavy downpours. Still, they all hung in there with the goal of helping an estimated 900 people.
Aly envisions the organization will have a major foothold in providing assistance to residents of Houston.
“This dormitory is part of our investment to give back to this community, to continue to bridge the gap between those who have, and those who don’t.”