Students Help With Fundraiser for Arab and Muslim Women

Students from a number of Kent County schools are pitching in to help fund a new shelter for West Michigan Arab and Muslim women.

The June 15 fundraiser will seek support for a new facility to provide temporary housing for women who are victims of war, marital violence and poverty.  It is an initiative of Noor’s Heaven of West Michigan Services, a nonprofit providing social services to the region’s Arab community.

Noor’s Heaven President Wafa Haddad sought volunteers from area high schools to help put on the event, called “Sanctuary Seeds 4 Her.” It will include music, food and a fashion show at a 28th Street facility.  Students from Kent ISD’s Innovation High School, Caledonia High School and Northview High School are helping.

Emmy Rutowski of Northview High School will model clothing from the Middle East. She volunteered after learning of the event from Julie Mushing, diversity coordinator for Kent ISD.

“I think it’s a really great cause to help Middle Easterners in Grand Rapids get along in life,” says Emmy, who will be a senior next fall.

She spent the past school year as part of an interfaith student group organized by Mushing. Emmy said what she has learned about Muslims, Sikhs and other faiths encouraged her to help Haddad’s effort.

“She’s very personable, super friendly,” adds Emmy, who attended meetings with Haddad and other students. “She’s just a really great woman and it’s a great thing she’s doing.”

Caledonia High School junior Waseem Syed will give a presentation on the organization at the fundraiser, and plans to serve in outreach in the future. He said he quickly offered to help when he heard about Noor’s Heaven from Haddad.

“Arab Women these days are kind of scared of asking for help,” he said. “I wanted to be part of this organization to help others.”

He said he plans to spread the word about the organization as much as possible.

“In Arab countries, men are supreme and women don’t have a say in decisions,” he said. “It’s kind of hard for (Arab women) to start a life here.”

Students from Kent ISD’s Innovation High also are volunteering.

CONNECT

The Sanctuary Seeds 4 Her fundraiser will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 15 at 2035 28th Street SW, Suite O. Tickets are $25. To register click here.

Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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