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The Muslim Link

Break-In Hampers Muslim Youth Program In SE DC PDF Print E-mail
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Community News - Community News
Written by Hena Zuberi, Muslim Link Staff Reporter   
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 10:05
"Them Muslims changed my kid. I am not Muslim but Allah sent them. 3 men into my house. So powerful they were, I could see his shoulders dropping. He was out of control. At 13, taking to drugs, no school wanted him, no program would accept him. Now he is going to go to National Collegian Prep School,” exclaimed Ms. Mooney.

"I am devastated, thieves broke into their office and stole the computers, laptops and the Wii. This was his safe place to go. They accepted him in their football program, the Benning Terrace Soldiers."

A break-in at the office of the Benning Terrace Youth Empowerment Initiative leaves coaches, staff and kids upset.  Michael Toland is the President, serves as a coach and mentors at-risk youths in the Benning Terrace public housing development in Washington, D.C.

Thieves took the cameras, the DVD player, audio-visual equipment, a couple of laptops, and a Wii game system.

“This is where we hold our anger management, teen issues, and Islamic studies sessions,” says Toland. This theft is especially damaging as grassroots programs such as the Benning Terrace Soldiers in Washington, D.C., have helped youth growing up in extremely challenging environments but these programs often lack the funding to meet their community’s overwhelming needs.

The community football program started in 1999 and serves youth ages 5 to 15.  Benning Terrace Soldiers, as the team in known, has helped thousands of youth. Each season upto five teams play and each team has 25-30 kids.

The last break-in was in 2010 when the office was vandalized and team uniforms were destroyed. ”We use the DVD player for videos for our all our classes, the cameras are used during games. “We take pictures of the kids playing games, receiving trophies,” decried Toland.

The facility holds group counseling sessions for the children within the community discussing different topics, such as anger management, life skills, bullying and peer pressure.

The police have registered a report but the staff haven't heard back.

"I trust them, as long as they are there I know my son is safe, doing positive things. The gangs have taken over our streets, they want to take away our kids,” shares Ms. Mooney.

“We work with the local elementary school; we attend the school PTA conferences instead of the parents as a lot of these youth have no male figures in the house,” said Toland.

Toland is attends Masjid Al Islam in Ward 7. “They have made small cash donations to our program.”

The group has had several success stories. “We had a young child when we started, he is  becoming a DC firefighter and assists the children who come into our program,” shared Coach Toland.

Just a few days ago two different parts of the neighborhood got into a turf war and Imam Aliyy calmed them down.

Br. Jamal teaches the children financial management. They buy cases of water and sell water for a dollar a bottle as a summer job. “We will teach them marketing skills and plan to get each of them a bank account’” said Aliyy.

Another mentor, Br. Abdul Malik teaches Conscious Chess Moves – each Wednesday so neighborhood kids can have a positive outlet. ”Some of his kids have competed in national levels and have won,” said Abdul-Aliyy.

Imam Abdul-Aliyy is on the staff at Masjid al Islam, he runs the Islamic Studies program on Mondays and Fridays from 5-7pm  Ten to fifteen students attend his classes. “We cover iman, salah, adab conduct & behavior, Quran recitation,” relayed Abdul-Aliyy,”one of our appeals is for Qurans and books of hadith, history books, Quranic tafseer.” 

“We would like to have volunteers to come and assist us especially for the girls as right now we only have male mentors,” he said.

The Soldiers will be hosting a tree-planting on October 12th from 9 am to 4 pm around the community.

Visit for more details on how you can get involved or to donate to this effort.

641 46th street South East Apt B1. 20019
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