SE Michigan (V9-I29)

July 12, 2007 by  


Greater Lansing Arab American Social Services (GLAASS) Picnic

Lansing–July 8–Greater Lansing Arab American Social Services, a younger and smaller cousin of Dearborn’s powerful ACCESS social services organization, held a wonderful picnic this past Sunday at the idyllic Lake Lansing Park in Haslett, Michigan.

This was the fifth annual picnic arranged by GLAASS, a public and free affair which provided very tasty Middle Eastern food including hummus and tahini, potato chips and soda, and more, to a diverse group including Arab Christians, Arab Muslims, Indians and Pakistanis, and African and African American people–about 300 attended the late-afternoon picnic during the course of the day.

GLAASS is a registered not-for-profit organization, one which aims to represent Arab Americans of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, including both immigrant and non-immigrant Arabs. It provides help with housing, job placement, and English as a Second Language. GLAASS president Dennis Denno is a polished young American whose descent is originally from Mosul, Iraq.

Melissa Moody, another GLAASS official, explained that GLAASS has just begun a 10-week citizenship class designed to prepare students to take the American citizenship test. The teacher is a former ESL teacher of American background whose husband took and passed the test. The class has about 10 students and GLAASS aims to double the size of its next citizenship test class.

Mr. Denno explained that –he explained Sunday that GLAASS maintains very close relations with ACCESS and that ACCESS helped GLAASS get its Americorps volunteer.

Americorps is a national program begun by President Clinton, which has since inception provided more than 400,000 men and women to serve more than 2,000 nonprofits, public agencies, and faith-based and community organizations.

The venue for the picnic was Lake Lansing Park, a beautiful park which borders the largest body of water within 30 miles of Lansing.

The 30 acre site includes a sandy beach with swimming and paddle-boats available for rental. It has a large and beautiful pirate-themed playground, volleyball courts, a fishing dock, and much more. The diversity of the people in attendance at the park on Sunday was a testament to Lansing’s diversity–a better representation of America’s diverse ethnic mix than can usually be seen in one place in Southeast Michigan.

The lake has a rich history; it was originally known as Pine Lake, and served as a hunting and fishing ground for Indian tribes for centuries. Burial mounds have been found around the lake that pre-date the Chippewa Indians and Chief Okemos. The lake provided abundant fishing, and the surrounding woods were a source of wild game.
Dogs and alcoholic beverages are not allowed at the park. But don’t expect a completely Islamic environment! As you might expect in the presence of a swimming area, there are many people who wear revealing bathing suits when swimming time is available.

If you want to support GLAASS by donations or by volunteering, please contact them directly. GLAASS’s address is 913 W. Holmes Road, Lansing, MI 48911. They can be reached at 517-402-6225.

Clergy Meet at Islamic Center with DHS Chief

By (Al Hajj) Abdullah Bey El-Amin

Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff met prominent local Muslims at a Dearborn Michigan Masjid to discuss ways and means to enhance the positive aspects of the world’s religions, especially Islam. The meeting, held at the Karbala Islamic Center, was hosted by Imam Hisham, director of the center. Mr. Chertoff acknowledged there is a problem with Islamophobia, but he also offered sound solutions to the problem.

Mr. Chertoff encouraged the religious leaders in attendance to “not stand on the sidelines and watch people misrepresent our religions.” A case was cited about the aftermath of the bombing of the Federal building by some Christian extremists. Although it was not the backlash against Christianity as the negative waves against Islam after 911, it still offered an opportunity for mainstream Christians to denounce the violence and promote their positive side. The same thing was done, and is still being done, by Muslims but the lack of knowledge about Islam makes it a much tougher job for Muslims.

He encouraged us to point young people in the direction of government service. “If you are in the room at the table, you are better able to present a positive picture of yourself and your community.”

The advice Mr. Chertoff offered comes on the heels of comments made a day earlier in Chicago where he raised concerns about a “growing chance of violence this summer by Muslim extremists.”

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) recently led an effort that addressed and put into action the thoughts Mr. Chertoff made today. A concentrated effort by Sunni and Shi’a clergy to be more visible in our interaction with each other has resulted in an unprecedented signing (previously reported in TMO and available on the TMO website) of a “Muslim Code of Honor” in which Muslims promised, among other things, to not denigrate each other in the media or internally. Great relationships have resulted.

ACCESS: Local Arab American Families Care for Children with Cancer

In a heart-warming display of Arab hospitality, the ACCESS Community Health and Research Center, the American Cancer Society (ACS), the YMCA and local Arab American families partnered to host five children and their physicians from the Middle East as part of the 2007 World Oncology Camp. Youth cancer survivors from 13 countries participated in the only international cancer camp in the world.

Oncology Campy 07

The Camp took place from June 16 – 27 and provided the children with an opportunity to learn about diverse cultures and traditions, while also giving them the chance to be “ordinary” kids. Now in its fifth year, the program gave the children a one-week summer camp and a one-week stay in an American household. Local Arab American host families embraced the children, opening their homes and hearts to them. “We showed these children around the city, treated them to restaurants, toured museums, enjoyed arts and crafts, went shopping, swimming, horseback riding, boating, and much more,” said Dr. Adnan Hammad, director of the ACCESS Community Health & Research Center and one of this year’s hosts.

The medical professionals in the delegation who traveled with and treated the children throughout the program were able to visit American medical centers and observe current cancer detection and treatment techniques. Members of the delegation visited the ACCESS Community Health and Research Center and observed its community-based methods of conducting cancer screening and education services.

For more information regarding this program and future World Oncology Camp dates and sponsorships, please contact Dr. Adnan Hammad at (313) 216-2239 or ahammad@acesscommunity.org.

Michigan Muslim Organizations Meet With Iraqi Parliament Member

On July 2, 2007, CAIR-MI met with Iraqi Parliment member Dr. Sadettin Ergec in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Dr. Ergec discussed the problems that the Turkmen minority in Iraq are currently facing and the dire conditions of the Iraqi people under the United States occupation.

CAIR-MI Meets With OIC Representatives

On June 29, 2007, CAIR-MI met with officials from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The topics of discussion included inquiry into the demographics of the Detroit Muslim community as well as analysis in the current humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan.

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