Popular Muslim event serving homeless people draws hundreds, and a new Christian partner

11022019_homeless_164053-780x479Aziz Junejo was scared no one would come. This is the 14th year he’s helped organize an event for homeless people with volunteers from local mosques and Muslim groups. But the location for Saturday’s “Day of Dignity” was new: Plymouth Church in downtown Seattle.

He didn’t have to worry. “We’ve never had so many people before,” Junejo said, near the end of the four-hour event, previously held at the Millionair Club. “We’ve had well over 300 people.”

Around him, a half-dozen barbers were giving haircuts, an acupuncturist was working to relieve aches and pains, and volunteers were handing out winter coats, backpacks and an array of other items that filled large tote bags to the brim. Nearby, a medical station offered free HIV and other tests. Earlier, many had eaten a lunch of chicken and rice.

Junejo approached Plymouth in hopes of starting an interfaith partnership for the event. The church was eager, said its executive minister, the Rev. Steven Davis. Plymouth already provides space for Muslims to pray during the week, including for a Friday afternoon service. He offered Junejo free use of the same space where that service is held, and said members of his congregation may get more involved in future years.

In the Muslim community, said volunteer Maria Romero, “this is such a well-loved event” that she tried unsuccessfully to sign up for several years. All the volunteer spots were full. This year, she and 24-year-old daughter Iman Khalaf finally made it in. “It’s something that’s really important to us as a family,” Maria Romero said, explaining that volunteering empowered her to do something about a problem she has seen steadily worsen.



Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Atheist: Who is Most Likely to Help a Brother Out?

1682876-poster-1920-which-religion-cares-the-most-about-the-homelessAs advertising legend has it, David Ogilvy was on his way to the office one day when a blind homeless person asked him for money. Ogilvy rebuffed him on the money, but he did dispense some ad wisdom perhaps worth more than whatever he had in his wallet. He changed the man’s sign from, “I’m blind, please give me money” to “It is spring and I am blind,” thus changing the conversation. Now, a homeless man seems to have absorbed a similar lesson, presumably without help from any modern-day Don Drapers.

redditor recently posted an image of a homeless man squatting among his few belongings. Spread out in front of him are nine separate containers, each with signs in front of them declaring a faith, while the man holds up a larger sign that reads, “Which religion cares most about the homeless?” Rather than simply asking for money, this homeless man turned street-level charity into a religious competition, in the form of a theological question. Now, that’s changing the conversation.