We had the good fortune of connecting with Sara Wada and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sara, what do you attribute your success to?
One word: Teamwork. Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Relief Georgia team has worked endless hours these past few months during the Coronavirus pandemic, and Ramadan the holy month where Muslims fast each day from sunrise to sunset. The last few months we have aided in serving over 10,000 individuals. The ICNA Relief Food Pantry request has nearly tripled due to layoffs or other unfortunate circumstances pertaining to the pandemic. During the time, we were able to provide over 250,000 pounds in food and groceries, collectively distributed close to 12,000 hot meals and non-perishable food boxes, 1,076 hygiene kits to those in need, and took over 50 Tele-Screening for COVID-19.
To commemorate the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate their holiday Eid-al-Fitr. However, due to the pandemic Muslims were limited in how to celebrate Eid this year with their family, friends, and loved ones around the world. To help celebrate Eid, ICNA Relief Georgia held Eid Curbside Giveaway, for Muslim families and individuals affected by the pandemic, where we were able to give out pizza, candy, and gift cards to nearly 1,000 low-income people!
Our ICNA Relief Georgia team may be small, but there comes great blessings (baraqah) with the work that we have accomplished. We are blessed to be in a position that allows us to help those in need and engage volunteers in our community. After all we are “Muslims for Humanity.”
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My motto in life is YOLO! Go out and do what makes you happy. Life is too short, so explore the areas that make you excited. Follow your passion. Working with ICNA Relief, has been a true blessing. It’s the type of work that is fulfilling. My passion is to help others, and with the help of ICNA Relief, I am able to do just that every day. We are able to help change the lives of almost 300 people daily in the state of Georgia. In life, there are ups and downs, but what I have learned is if you are patient enough and always strive to do your best, good outcomes will proceed. In the Quran, there is a verse I like to remind myself, “verily with every hardship comes ease” [94:6].
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Post-COVID.. I would take them to the best ramen place in town, Jinyas! Then, head for dessert and hot chocolate at Cafe Intermezzo. Lastly, end the day walking around Ponce City Market and rent bikes to ride along the BeltLine to watch the sunset. 🙂
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We have had numerous collaborations with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), such as Helping the Community and local restaurant owners, that help provide over 5,000 meals to first responders at various hospitals and to individuals in low income areas throughout the state of Georgia. Other collaborations that we would like to thank: Pakistani American Friends of Atlanta, Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, Atlanta Muslim Hub, GA APPNA, <3 Friends of Atlanta <3, Gwinnett Islamic Circle, and Roswell Community Masjid.
We also would like to take a moment and show our complete gratitude towards our parent company ICNA. We would not have been able to do our work without their support and hard efforts. Thank you for all you do and we are happy to be a part of such an impactful organization.
Most importantly, we would like to thank the staff at ICNA Relief Georgia for all of their countless hours of hard work and dedication to serve those in need during a crisis of a pandemic. Additionally, the community for their support and volunteer work to selflessly help those in need.
Sheikh Shamikh Sahadat, is our South-East Regional Director. He may be new, but his work on the grounds has been phenomenal with collaborations with the Atlanta City Mayor’s Office and USDA Farmers to Families Program, where we will be serving 1,000 people of fresh produce weekly for about 6 weeks! Additionally, his Facebook live videos and energetic personality has encouraged many to volunteer and notice the work which ICNA Relief has been doing on the ground. He is a true asset to our team and a superb leader.
“We thank God for giving us this opportunity to serve humanity especially in the time when it’s needed the most.”
-Sheikh Shamikh Sahadat
Sister Fatimah Wadood, is our Case Manager for our Women’s Transitional house in Georgia, as well as Outreach Coordinator. She is hardworking and has a heart of gold. She goes out of her way to help anyone in need. She is the one who helps gather volunteers and gets the work done.
Brother Abdul Basit Khan, our Outreach Coordinator has helped on site for various events and has helped with food distributions. He does any task which is given to him without any questions and goes beyond his work scope to get the job done.
Brother Yusuf Maung, our Food Pantry Manager, has been working with ICNA Relief for almost 5 years. He likes to work behind the scenes and is truly so humble for the amount of work he has done. His work is valued, especially during these times where the food pantry has become an essential destination for many members in our community.
Lastly, brother Abu Raihan, our Manager for the Shifa Free Health Clinics in Duluth and Athens area. With his leadership, we have completed 38 tele-medicines, 53 tele-screenings, 29 mental health consultations, and 97 patient educations. He continues to advance our free clinics by going all electronic and creating organization when it comes to scheduling patients.
There are key volunteers who are always committed to serving those in need, and generous donors who graciously donate to ICNA Relief that we are super blessed to have as part of our team. You guys are the heart of our operations. Without you, we would not be able to accomplish as much as we do and in the amount that we do. THANK YOU!
Facebook: Facebook locally- facebook.com/icnaga ; Facebook nationally- facebook.com/ICNARelief ; Facebook group- facebook.com/groups/icnareliefgeorgia
Other: Please donate generously. Any amount is beneficial. People tend to send aid internationally, which is great, but we need to start helping where we live. We need to aid locally first.
Volunteer!!! If you would like to volunteer with ICNA Relief, please submit this volunteer form: icnarelief.org/volunteer.