ADAMS Center Hires Fulltime Youth Coordinator
By Omar Mullick
Masjid leaders across America identify "the youth" as a major priority of their centers. Few, however, actually allocate significant resources to developing the younger generation of Muslims.
Not so at the All Dulles Area Muslims Society (ADAMS) in Herndon, Virginia. One of the most active masajid in the Washington DC metropolitan area, ADAMS recently hired a full-time youth director.
Hud Williams characterizes his job according to whatever the greatest need is for the community youth at the moment. “Right now,” he says, “we are in the process of organizing field trips for the kids so that they can really go out into nature and immerse themselves in a Muslim environment … learn[ing] together for two or three days. I’m also trying to organize regular Halaqas for the kids. We want them to be able to go out and play basketball and also socialize and have fun with each other,” Williams said explaining his new position.
One of the more serious aspects of Hud’s job that people don’t typically expect a youth coordinator to be involved in is the very crucial work of providing mentors for young children in need of guidance. “One thing I have learned ever since coming on the job is that there are a lot of single Muslim mothers out there, who have young children or especially males in need of a male mentor figure. So we have tried to create a Big Brother program, so that they have someone they can look up to or just look to for Islamic guidance and influence.”
There is also an element to this position according to Hud of simply responding to a need as it arises. “People come in with needs or ideas everyday for things that either need to be addressed or projects that they want to start in order to address some crucial need” notes Hud.
Seasonal demands on Hud also affect his duties as a fulltime youth coordinator at ADAMS. The number of parents and children needing help jumps drastically in the summer. This surge in activity has also opened Hud’s eyes to a profound truth about Muslim parental tendencies in this day and age. “We also have ended up developing parental programs because many parents had the tendency to drop their kids off at the mosque in the morning and then want to pick them up later on and have you turn them into good Muslims when it clearly doesn’t work like that. There’s only so much you can do when you have a kid for only two or three hours in the day, or sometimes only two or three hours in the week at a mosque.”
Hud sees incidents all the time that reveal the experiential nature of the rewards he get from his work. “Ever since [Brother Saqib Sheikh from ADAMS] started the Mentor program you have to see the way people respect the Big Brother figures in the community. You really have to see the impact of this kind of effort to appreciate it.”
Hud is also consistently humble with regard to his own place in all these activities. “You have to see what the volunteers do, who stretch in age from adult parents to kids straight out of college who want to help out.” This humility extends to listening closely to what the youth themselves want or are in need of. He adds “you have to really stop and listen to what they’re saying if you want to know and then address what the youth want from their community centers.”
What is evident Hud’s tone is the passion he has for his work, and this is only further confirmed by the level of sacrifice involved in his path to arrive at this job. Hud’s own career path took him from a very marketable Economics degree to consulting work with Price Waterhouse and then a stint with IBM before volunteer work at ADAMS led him to consider a more permanent role in their Muslim institution. The obvious and rare nature of this sort of sacrifice he credits to two sources: his wife’s support and the example of his parents. “My wife really encouraged to me commit to my dreams and do something that really meant something to me…Also, my parents were I thought like regular parents, but when I got out in to the real world I saw just how rare they are. My mother would take people in to the home and take care of them, help them get back on their feet. And I think being around that really had an affect on me. Also, there is this community. Right away I felt at home here. Right away, when I came here, I thought this is somewhere that I would like to stay and get involved with this community.”
Hud Williams speaks about a transitional moment in the past and his arrival here with some clarity, even while the time period itself must have been nerve racking. “ I remember when I came here and they offered me the job. At first, I had just taken a leave from IBM, not sure what would work out if anything. But pretty soon,” he laughs, “I knew I wasn’t going back.”