In the last five weeks, we have received and distributed over 26 tons of free, fresh fruits and vegetables to over 2,100 families through the Farmers to Families food box program. These distributions will continue until the end of August, at which time, we hope to resume our normal indoor distribution.
Over the last month, we have also supported the start-up of a weekly food distribution at MAS. Our involvement has included providing three vanloads of dry goods and packed food bags, sharing a weekly donation of halal chicken and bread, providing 150 hot meals through SevaTruck each week, and consulting with them on hiring a food bank coordinator. Alhamdulillah, within one month of starting, they are serving 150 families each week.
As the state and masjid have slowly reopened, we are preparing for the reopening of the SS office and thrift store with the following safety guidelines in place:
Guidelines for Reopening the SS Office Safely:
• Office visits will be by appointment only. There will be no walk-ins permitted.
• No more than five people (including staff) will be allowed in the office at one time.
• Children will not be allowed in the office.
• A mask must be worn at all times.
• Visitors must use hand sanitizer upon arrival.
• Visitors must sit behind the plexiglass desk shield, and at least six feet from staff members.
Guidelines for Reopening the Thrift Store Safely:
• Donations will not be accepted, except by appointment and approval from the store manager.
To request a Social Services Office appointment:
To schedule a donation drop-off at the Thrift Store:
There were 17 SS classes, programs and community events running on March 13th, when everything was suspended indefinitely.
With things slowly beginning to reopen, we have begun to think about how we can rethink them to bring them back to life with the restrictions that exist in our new normal.
Many can be shifted online, although the clients who need these classes the most, often lack computer or Internet access, or know how to navigate online programs without one-on-one assistance, making this a challenge. So we are exploring video options and apps that might be more accessible.
We anticipate that the employment assistance and financial support will be the greatest and most urgent need in the coming weeks. To that end, we have started to register those who want to receive emails with opportunities for jobs, job training, workshops and virtual job fairs. We will partner with Upwardly Global, Virginia Career Works and WDC in Alexandria to offer these resources.
For those needing rent and other financial assistance, we want to begin office visits by appointment only, and with safety precautions in place. These would include a limited number of people in the office, distance when meeting, a plexiglass shield on the desks, masks required, etc. There is an influx of CARES Act money earmarked for rental and other assistance and available through Coordinated Services Planning in Fairfax County, the City of Alexandria Office of Housing and THRIVE in Arlington County. We will focus on navigating clients to these resources and helping them to apply.
We continue food distribution both onsite and through about a dozen community partners. In the last 3 months, we have distributed 60% of the total distributed in all of last year.
**As summer begins, and volunteers return to work, we are starting to move from emergency response toward recovery, and we will make the following modifications to our food distribution going forward.
In the first three weeks of the USDA Farmers to Families program, we have distributed over 15 tons of food at no cost to us. We will continue to receive these boxes through the end of August. These are beautiful, 25 pound boxes of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables, and receiving them increases the number of families we serve, reduces the need for food packing, and eliminates about $2,000 of food costs each week.
However, the heat, humidity and rain, and dwindling number of volunteers is making our weekly distribution a challenge. Because of this, and because the boxes each family receives are so generously packed, we will no longer distribute chicken and bread until we can return to a more normal indoor distribution that is temperature controlled and requires fewer people to staff. We anticipate that this will be after September 1st, but will reevaluate at that time.
Because we have also been able to source frozen chicken breasts and fish fillets at no cost thought the TEFAP program, our freezers are full of halal chicken and bread that can be used for emergency cases or families who we know cannot access protein any other way.
Additionally, in the last three and a half months, we greatly expanded our reach through a dozen community partners by distributing over 8,100 produce bags, cases of nonperishables, and hot meals. Over the next month, we will begin to phase out this expanded support, and coordinate with Food for Others, who has CARES Act funding, to fill this gap. This will completely eliminate the need for space and volunteers for food packing.
We will continue to share non-perishable donations as they are available and to provide hot meals through SevaTruck at no cost.
On June 20th, World Refugee Day, we partnered with MakeSpace and ICNA Relief to collect nonperishable food items in the parking lot and also distribute food bags to those in need. Both organizations were good partners during Ramadan, and after, providing food bags and boxes and hygiene kits for our families.
We have also registered with Food Rescue, a DC organization that collects surplus food from stores and restaurants and delivers to food pantries such as ours. They are making a targeted effort to expand in the Falls Church/Fairfax County area, and will begin regular deliveries of “rescued food” to us.
Other coordinated food donations that we have received or are upcoming include the following:
MakeSpace – 110 Ramadan food bags and 40 hygiene kits
Rotary Club of Bailey’s Crossroads – 10 X $1,000 worth of pantry staples and chicken every other week over 20 weeks
Welcoming Falls Church – A 10-20 car caravan donation on June 20, World Refugee Day
427 Ramadan food boxes/bags distributed (Our normal is 200 boxes)
These additional food sourcing options and sizable donations make it possible for us to continue increased distribution to our own families and community partners while beginning to significantly decrease our costs.
On a non-food note, we are in the process of onboarding as a referring agency for the Kaiser Permanente CHAP program, which will enable us to refer uninsured clients who do not qualify for insurance otherwise for enrollment in their gold-standard charitable health insurance program.
1. With Islamic centers shut down and social distancing is becoming a barrier for
most of Ramadan traditional rituals, how different this Ramadan will be for
Muslims in America? There have been challenges, but we have never experienced anything like this. On
March 13th for the safety of the community, we had to close our center. This
meant that the 4,000 people who gather for Friday prayers could not gather for the
first time in our history. Of course the shutdowns and isolation resulting
from the health emergency these past weeks have been challenging for everyone,
but they have been particularly difficult for our community, who stands shoulder
to shoulder in Salah/Prayer five times a day.
2. Islamic centers used to prepare Iftar meals for Muslims from all social levels. With a large numbers of unemployed people because of the Coronavirus is Dar Al-Hijrah planning to feed Muslims who lost their jobs in Ramadan?
We quickly mobilized to provide what was needed in this new normal.
Started with moving our weekly food bank distribution outside and will continue
our Thursday drive-up/walk-up food distribution through Ramadan. Photo ID is
not required right now. We distribute fresh produce, halal chicken and bread from
9am to 11am, and all are welcome.
Rather than respond to phone requests as they come in, we have begun to register
families for food deliveries, and consolidate the deliveries to specific geographic
areas according to a schedule each day. Also, delivering critical medications! In
fact, we secured medication that cost $5,800, for free, for a mother of 6, recovering
from a stroke. We have delivered diapers and baby formula to new moms who
cannot leave their apartment safely.
Dar Al-Hijrah is planning for a Ramadan where we couldn’t be together, by securing
Iftar hot meals for drive-thru pick up 5:00pm-7:30pm daily, to try to maintain
community, even while distancing. Our skeleton staff has worked around the
clock to serve those whose need doesn’t cease with a Stay-at-Home order.
Organizing check-in calls on the most vulnerable – single mothers, widows, the
elderly and the sick.
3. Muslim Americans used to learn more about their faith through special sessions
during their Ramadan nightly prayers at Islamic centers. How would they get their
spiritual dose with Islamic centers shut down?
Virtually! You can register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_fwh054qkRci2FKbz9xIQPA
4. Part of Ramadan rituals is helping the poor. Did the pandemic increase your list
of needy families? And did you detect an increase of members charity
contributions this Ramadan?
Alhamdulillah, our Social Services department has served our community for
many years. In just the first month, we provided over 13,000 bags of food and hot
meals, and the number of requests grows each week.
We simply can’t turn away from those who were most at risk before this disruption,
and now rely on us more than ever. Keep in mind that many do not qualify
for benefits or they are afraid to access them because of their legal status,
making us their only source for food. Our neighbors are the most vulnerable –
mothers, widows, children, the elderly and the sick – and they are hurting.
In spite of this, our food bank remained a priority. We committed to continuing
our weekly distribution of fresh vegetables, halal chicken and bread, and we have
added non-perishables as well. Safety precautions forced us to move the operation
outdoors for drive-up and walk-up pick up only. The need grows each week, each
day. After one month, our pick-ups have doubled, and deliveries are up 5X more
To keep up, we have added drive-up donation drop-off days to stock our pantry,
every Saturday from 10-1, and Alhamdulillah, the community has responded
We are also providing Ramadan food boxes. These include needed pantry staples
to last a month, such as rice, oil, flour, sugar, and other non-perishables. The
family will be called to pick up the boxes as they are available.
We will make warm meals available for pick-up by car each day.
During Ramadan, we will share a link where families can register for Zakat al-
Fitr. Zakat al-Fitr is charity given to the poor before the end of Ramadan.
Checks will range from $75 up to a maximum of $500 per family.
Because of the great need, we are also coordinating with our community partners
to be sure that food is getting to those who need it the most, and might not find
their way to us. We are putting our sewing graduates to work, making masks for
elderly and sick clients who are homebound and vulnerable, hourly and gig
workers who are still on the front line, and our own staff who continues to serve
throughout the crisis.
Additional Community Outreach:
We continue to coordinate with community partners to get food to those most at
risk in the area. We are working closely with Second Story at the Culmore
Resource Center, Culmore Clinic, First Christian Church/Safe Haven, Vietnamese
Resettlement Association, ALIVE, Patrick Henry Shelter, St. Vincent DePaul
Society and school social workers.
In lieu of the hot meals we have been providing weekly to Safe Haven and
Culmore Clinic, we have arranged with Seva Truck to provide healthy, hot meals
during the month of Ramadan at no cost to us or the partner.
**Over 13,000 bags of food distributed, 500 hot meals delivered, Over 600 grocery
deliveries, 350 hygiene kits given, 27 support resources provided to the
community, Over 100 carloads of donations received, Over 20 calls with
government agencies and relief organizations, 32 volunteers signed up,
Coordination with 10 community partners to serve our neighbors
Streamlined Food Bank registration and sign-in.
Mobilized outdoor distribution…Sewing masks…Making wellness calls…Registering for Iftar pick-
up…Delivering meds and personal protective equipment…Preparing Ramadan food boxes…
Link to a video of the first outdoor distribution: https://hijrah.org/covidrelief
Link to register in our Nightly Ramadan Program: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_fwh054qkRci2FKbz9xIQPA
Ramadan Food Box Link: https://forms.gle/YeYRK5HssHmGmr5P6
Iftar Meal Registration Link: https://hijrah.org/iftar-register/
Iftar Volunteering Link: https://hijrah.org/iftarteam/
Food Bank Registration Link: https://hijrah.org/covidrelief-apply/
Special Response Care Team Form: https://hijrah.org/careteam/
Thrift Shop Clothes Request Link: https://forms.gle/A54yVWrBFJRYyWvdA
Link to donate: https://hijrah.org/covidrelief/
A Snapshot of Our Social Services Department During COVID-19
Assalamu Alaikum Brothers and Sisters,
This past Thursday, April 2nd was our third outdoor food distribution, and in the time since we started, our distributions have increased each week, now up over 50%. We continue to deliver to our neighbors in need as well, and this weekend, our food deliveries were up over 5 times the normal amount. Food security is one of our primary concerns during this crisis, but it’s not the only one.
In just the last two days, a mother of young children who was released from the hospital had no access to expensive, life-saving medications. We secured them for her. A mother and her young children fled a domestic violence situation with no plan, no resources, and nowhere to go. We helped to get this family safely placed in the shelter.
Dozens of wellness check-in calls have been made to those who are alone, including those who were widowed in the past year. We found one of our elderly, widowed sisters in tears and feeling isolated and afraid. We talked with her, and promised regular phone calls. By the end of the call, she was in tears of gratitude, knowing she is not alone.
Through our partners Culmore Clinic, First Christian Church, ALIVE!, St. Vincent DePaul Society, FCPS and Culmore Resource Center, we have provided grocery bags, cases of halal chicken, hot meals, hygiene kits, diapers and personal protective equipment to our neighbors in need.
Our team members have participated in over 20 phone calls and meetings with the Federal government, the county, humanitarian relief agencies and foundations to secure food and funding to keep the masjid in service to others, even while our donations have been dramatically reduced.
Mothers, Widows, Children, the Elderly and the Sick.
Meds, Housing, Wellness Check-ins, Meals, and Operations.
We need your help. We simply cannot turn away from those who have extraordinary need right now, but it costs money to turn on the lights, to secure food, and to pay the skeleton staff that is working around the clock.
Please do not hold your Zakat until Ramadan. Your community needs it now. Cash donations give us the greatest flexibility to respond to these needs, and recurring gifts help us prepare for the unknown that lies ahead of us.
Please consider an automatic monthly credit card donation of $20, $50, $100, $500 or more.
We are in community, even when we are separated. We have to help each other, no matter the cost or the sacrifice, and right now, our community needs us, working together, more than ever.
Jazakum Allah Khair,
Director, Social Services
Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center
Ibn Abbas reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said, “He is not a believe whose stomach is filled while the neighbor to his side goes hungry.”
Let me share a bright spot with you, in spite of these uncertain times.
Although we have been forced to shut down almost everything these last few weeks, we have still been able to get food to our most vulnerable neighbors through outdoor drive-up/walk-up distributions, and volunteer deliveries. Over 3,000 bags of fresh vegetables, chicken and bread have been distributed in the last two weeks!
When we put out a call for volunteers, Alhamdulillah, we were overwhelmed by the response, and we could not have met the great need without these generous souls. May Allah bless and protect them for their good deeds.
There have been many challenges resulting from the economic disruption caused by the public health emergency we are experiencing, but the one that is our greatest concern is food security for the most vulnerable. The requests for food support are increasing exponentially each day.
At the same time, closing the masjid and postponing our annual fundraiser have virtually eliminated our donations in the short term.
In’sha’Allah, we will continue to provide for our neighbors as long as we are able. But the cost and sourcing of food, which becomes scarcer by the day is making it increasingly difficult.
We have secured additional food donations, but they are not enough.
I’m asking for your help. Please do not hold your Zakat until Ramadan. Your community needs it now. Cash donations give us the greatest flexibility to respond to urgent needs, and recurring gifts help us prepare for the unknown that lies ahead of us.
Please consider an automatic monthly credit card donation of $20, $50, $100, $500 or more.
There is much to be grateful for, but still much more work for us to do, together.
Jazakum Allah Khair,
Director, Social Services
Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center
Last updated: March 25th, 2020
Assalamu Alaikum Brothers and Sisters,
So many of you have reached out to me to ask how you can help, or how we, Dar Al- Hijrah, can help our community during these challenging times. Let me update you.
With all of the closings and shutdowns, part-time and hourly workers who were already struggling are unable to work, unable to pay rent or put food on the table. The elderly in our community who live alone are even more isolated. Those who experience domestic violence are now home-bound and even more at risk. Our kids don’t understand what’s happening, and are more restless by the day.
If you are elderly, or living alone, or are feeling isolated, please call us at 703-531-2905. We will gladly assign you to a care team member who will call to discuss a plan that works best for you…regular check-in calls, food deliveries, help connecting to resources, whatever you need. If you, or someone you know would benefit from this additional support, we’re here to help, and we’re just a phone call away. These are anxious times for all of us, and we have to care for each other. As always, we are here to help our community, and right now, our community needs help more than ever. We are receiving and answering every message left on the social services voicemail.
I ask for your patience. This is a very fast moving situation, and we are all walking though it for the first time.
We don’t know yet what needs will arise as this crisis takes its course, and the effects reveal themselves, and we don’t know what we’ll have the capacity to do, but we do know that In’sha’Allah, with patience and care for one other, we will help each other through these challenges and our community will be stronger for it. May Allah grant us all patience. May He grant shiffa to those who are sick and bless those who are caring for them, and may He help us to love and care for one another in whatever ways we are able.
Below are some things that you can do right now to help.
Jazakum Allah Khair,
“O believers! Seek comfort in patience and prayer. Allah is truly with those who are patient.” Al-Baqarah [2:153]
CLICK HERE FOR A FULL RESOURCE LIST, UPDATED LIVE AS MORE RESOURCES BECOME AVAILABLE.
Evictions and disconnection of utilities have been temporarily suspended in Virginia through Monday, April 6.
“It would be an absolute outrage for Virginians to be evicted from their homes during this emergency, especially as we are asking them to practice social distancing and stay home to prevent further spread of COVID-19,” said Attorney General Mark Herring.
If you are facing difficulties – including food, shelter, employment, financial assistance, healthcare and more other needs, please call Coordinated Services Planning (CSP) 703-222-0880 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays).
Unemployment benefits if you have been laid off or lost your job:
If you are a worker who has been totally or partially separated from your job due to COVID-19, go to http://www.vec.virginia.gov/unemployed to see if you are eligible for unemployment insurance or call 866-832-2363 Monday-Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm.
Jobs- Companies hiring during COVID-10 outbreak and links to apply:
Financial hardship grants from Penny Appeal USA for those economically affected by COVID-19:
Northern Virginia Family Services – COVID-19 Emergency Assistance
Food Assistance – FCPS
Food Assistance – Meals on Wheels
Fairfax County’s Meals on Wheels program is now operating on a once-a-week basis and is delivering flash frozen meals to clients. Meals on Wheels is accepting new clients who are aged 60 and over. Call the county’s Coordinated Services Program at 703-222-0880 for more eligibility information and to apply to the program.
Virginia Department of Family Services- Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, Child Care and Emergency Assistance:
You can apply for Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, Child Care and Emergency Assistance benefits using internet access anywhere, anytime. Applications can be submitted 24-hours a day/7 days a week. Go to www.commonhelp.virginia.gov or call 1-855-635-4370
Additional resources by area:
Dar Al-Hijrah Care Team Support for those who live alone:
We have formed a special Crisis Care Team of experienced Social Services Staff members who are here to help. If you are elderly, or living alone, or are feeling isolated or unsafe, please call us at 703-531-2905. We will gladly assign you to a care team member who will call to discuss a plan that works best for you…regular check-in calls, food deliveries, help connecting to resources, whatever you need.
- Keep those affected in your duaas, especially the sick and the health care professionals.
- Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly and infirmed, and those who live alone. Share your phone number with them so they have someone to call in case of emergency.
- Share this link to apply for a hardship grant if affected by the pandemic, and assist with the application for those who need help. https://pennyappealusa.org/grants/covid-19-financial-hardship-grant
- Click here to volunteer: https://hijrah.org/covid-19/careteam/
- Donate Here: https://hijrah.org/covidrelief/ *Cash donations give us the greatest flexibility to assist those with the most urgent need.*
- Take care of yourself. Wash your hands often and stay home if you feel sick.
- And take a deep breath. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious right now.
We’re all in this together. May Allah grant us patience and ease through this challenging time.