It was something of a first this week when a small group of Muslim women organized an iftar, or dinner during Ramadan, at the Viatorian Province Center, as a fundraiser for Viator House of Hospitality.
They filled the meeting room with 50 adults, including young, immigrant men from the house, and they had a waiting list of people wanting to attend.
Anisha Patel, a board member with VHH, says she immediately found its mission compelling, as an immigrant herself and a Muslim woman. So did her network of friends and associates. Within a week of launching a campaign on social media, she surpassed her fundraising goal by $10,000.
The dinner was planned deliberately to take place during Ramadan, which Patel describes as a time of “giving, reflection and mindfulness, and hands-on service.”
Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, who co-directs Viator House with Br. Michael Gosch, CSV, reacted to the evening’s response with one word: “Wow!”
“We have drawn such enthusiastic support for Viator House from our area faith communities — Christian, Muslim and Jewish,” Fr. Brost said. “Anisha has been a great mobilizer of the Muslim community and the response local Muslims have shown reflects the deep-seated commitment in Islam to welcome immigrants and serve the needy.”
He points out that more than half of the men at Viator House are Muslim. Consequently, the fundraiser served not only to raise money for scholarships and emergency assistance for their families, but it drew the support of Muslim adults who potentially could serve the house as tutors, mentors and drivers.
“Since Viator House is committed to helping each man practice his faith,” Fr. Brost added, “it is crucial for us to have adult volunteers from their faith traditions present.”