By giving a helping hand–literally–a non-profit organization out of Detroit, MI, Neighborly Needs Inc. has been working with the local and surrounding communities to help provide opportunities for growth and rejuvenation in local Detroit. Their activities include renovating homes in Detroit to offer a place to live for youth entangled in the criminal justice system, community service and resources, as well as holding skills training programs.
Right to left: Nauman Imami, Waseem Ullah; DREAM of Detroit, Mika’il Stewart Saadiq, Shahied Hanifa; Neighborly Needs
Their current and biggest project seeks to fill in the many missing gaps of Detroit–a project to renovate a old boarded up school that will provide a plethora of services, amongst them, a senior assisted living facility catered to those with an Islamic lifestyle to accommodate for what is missing from other centers, a community center, and so forth.
“We are working with our collaborators to renovate the West side of the Detroit and we’ve been at this work ever since 2009 and our focus right now is the Longfellow Middle school … it is (now) an abandoned building, it is about a block from the Muslim center,” said former President and current Treasurer of the organization, Thaddeus Shakur.
Shakur is also interested in providing opportunities to Detroit as a city by renovating the building, an eyesore for the area.
“As you may be aware, abandoned buildings have devastating effects on the neighborhood they are in so our immediate goal is to try and buy that building and turn it into something useful for the entire West side of Detroit. I think that this is something that the Muslim community can really be a part of and actually show people in this area that we want to be a part of the renaissance of Detroit,” said Shakur.
Secretary, Shahied Hanifa, spoke about the proposed programs that the prospective center would feature:
“We want to turn that school into a community center that is going to support a (skills) training program, as well as senior citizen assisted living section as well. As of now, I know of no Muslim senior citizens assisted living quarters. It is vital that our community have something, a Muslim senior facility, and the reason why is … that is that there are certain Islamic and Muslim things that we do … one is our dietary needs… five daily prayers, those are essential,” he said.
Giving back to local Detroit, Hanifa spoke about past projects that Neighborly Needs Inc. completed with success as well.
“We have actually collaborated with another nonprofit … we currently renovated two homes. We put a single mother in there with a son, and after two years … this year, she came to us and said she wanted to buy the house from us … she didn’t’ have to pay rent, and when she started working, she started paying rent, and got herself stable, and now she’s actually able to purchase the home,” said Hanifa.
Raymond Hoskins from Detroit actually personally benefitted from the programs at Neighborly Needs Inc.:
“I have been in recovery for four years, now, from drugs and alcohol. Neighborly Needs Inc., along with Mariners Inn Treatment Center, has helped me turn my life around by giving me an opportunity to start my life over. Mariners Inn gave me a program to do this with and Neighborly Needs Inc. has supported my effort by offering me an affordable house to rent. Making it a bit more easy to come back from the financial debt that I had gotten myself into with drugs and alcohol. Starting over has been a very difficult process but it is now becoming easier that I have found suitable and affordable housing. After living here at this house that is owned by them, I have watched my life get better and the life of my roommate who has lived here a bit longer than me. Without a doubt, Neighborly Needs Inc. has given me a place to, truly, make a difference in my life and in my community. For this I am truly grateful,” Hoskins said in an email.
The current project at Neighborly Needs Inc. seeks to help many more like Hoskins make a real difference in their lives and community. Coming up on Mar 26 at 6pm is a benefit concert at the Islamic Center of Detroit where Neighborly Needs Inc. Inc. will be fundraising to support their latest initiative of renovation of the school, the community is highly encouraged to come.