Volunteer project has been a Multicultural collaboration
By Louis Hoglund
Getting through a pandemic requires teamwork, which has been on full display every Sunday since mid-March.
Between 60 and 100 bags of food have been distrubuted at the Multicultural Center every Sunday, though a combined volunteer effort of the Somali and Hispanic communities.
The Pelican Rapids Islamic Bilaal Mosque spearheaded the effort, with the Twin Cities-based non-profit “Feeding the Future,” according to Abdi Dool, Pelican Rapids multicultural volunteer and business owner.
The Mosque teams up with the Pelican Multicultural Center and volunteers to distribute the food. The project is above and beyond the services of the Pelican Rapids Community Food Shelf.
The food is available to those who come Sunday morning—though the emphasis is on families with children under age 18, sad Cynthia Zavala, volunteer with the multicultural center.
“But we don’t ask questions or require any (income) proof. It’s open to anybody who comes,” said Zavala. Because of word-of-mouth networks and the Multicultural connection, most of those receiving the food in Pelican have been Somali and Hispanic families.
Drivers from the Somali community drive down to Minneapolis on Saturday, and return with two vanloads of the food. Volunteers bag up the products, and are ready for distribution on Sundays.
“Feeding Our Future,” is a non-profit with the goal of broadening access to the USDA food programs. Much of the distribution is through Mosques and churches, said Dool.
If there is any food remaining after the Sunday local distribution, the remaining products are transported to Fargo-Moorhead, added Dool.
There is no end date from “Feeding Our Future” said Dool, so he expects the weekly distributions in Pelican to continue for at least a couple months.
For Multicultural leaders Dool and Zavala, the project has been a wonderful collaboration.
The Pelican Bilaal Mosque’s leadership has helped raise awareness of the charitable aspects of Islam.
Speaking for the Spanish-speaking community, Zavala said, “we are so thankful for the Mosque for sharing this, not only with the Hispanic community but with everyone else.”
The Bilaal Mosque is located in the back of the Dawo Halal African Store, which is down the street from the Pelican Multicultural Center. In the coming months, the Mosque will be relocated to the new Islamic center, in the former Pelican Bowling lanes. Renovations, which were on hold for most of the past year because of the pandemic, have gone into high gear in recent weeks. The center will not only be the new Pelican Mosque, but will also serve as a regional Islamic center; and the Fargo-Moorhead Islamic community has also been very involved in the center.
Meanwhile, the food pick-ups will continue each Sunday.
“Working with them on Sundays on this project has been amazing,” said Zavala. “This has brought me even closer to the Somali community and it feels great to be able to spend time with them and learn how compassionate and friendly we all can be when we work together. We share the same goals—to work hard for our community.”