Sometimes he sits in a parked car and counsels, other times in the family’s basement. He receives calls for emergency help at all hours. Imam Hasan Amin (pictured at right) and his Muslim Social Services Agency runs without an office or facilities, but that hasn’t stopped him or his team from serving Baltimore City and the surrounding areas for ten years.Sometimes he sits in a parked car and counsels, other times in the family’s basement. He receives calls for emergency help at all hours. Imam Hasan Amin and his Muslim Social Services Agency runs without an office or facilities, but that hasn’t stopped him or his team from serving Baltimore City and the surrounding areas for ten years.
At their first fundraiser held on May 17, 2014, at the classy Rawling Fulton Club House, MSSA celebrated ten years of providing neighborly needs and thanked the organizations that have partnered with MSSA to serve the community and to raise the funds to continue their impactful social service programming. Total Health Care, Masjid Saffat, Masjid ul Haqq, Islamic Community School, the Women’s Affairs of Al Muntahina, Al Muslimaat al Nisaa, Islamic Relief, Church of Latter Day Saints, and the Red Cross, were recognized amongst others.
Imam Amin, the Executive Director was presented by a Governor’s citation but reminded everyone that the reward is with Allah. According to Imam Amin, since its establishment in 2003, Muslim Social Services Agency assisted over 10,000 individuals with eviction prevention, rental/security deposit, prisoner re-entry, food, clothing and furniture purchases and a variety of other social services needs.
Muslim Social Services Agency provides a comprehensive response to the ever-increasing number of people losing their jobs, homes and health care services. Its goal is to improve and enrich the quality of life of those in need of resources and services. It provides resources and services meeting the educational, social, housing, employment, counseling, medical and mental health needs of its clients.
Imam Hasan Amin’s family has lived the life; they know ‘the rats and roaches’ and can empathize like no one else. His son recalled how dealers would hide drugs in the bushes in their front yard, in the gas tank of their car. “My community turned into a battle ground,” said Karim Amin, President of MSSA, as he recalled how his mother’s maternal instinct saved him from a drive by shooting in front of their home.
His younger brother, Asim Amin who works with the City Public School system bussing special needs children, recently joined the agency and has plans for growth, including a transitional housing facility. He has a business administration degree and hopes to bring some organizational structure to the organization. For ten years his parents have been ‘busy doing the actual work’ to take a break and plan for the growth.
Imam Amin and his wife Sr Zakia dream of opening branches of the agency, in other cities around the country. These offices would receive guidance, training and support from MSSA.
“We are homeless ourselves,” quipped Amin raising funds for an office for MSSA, so clients can have privacy during their consultations and they can house a permanent food pantry. Events usually take place at the Masjid Ul-Haqq in Baltimore as well as other locations, including the local shelters. The agency would like to have more staff, case managers and social workers who can look at the needs of the individuals and connect them with resources and services.
The brothers want to focus on recidivism and provide services for the many who leave prison. “Why do so many end up back in [jail]? For many, prison is more comfortable. They are afraid to go home where they can be shot or molested. This work is not about looking good for cameras,” said Karim Amin.
Abdul Muhsi, who has benefited from the services of MSSA retold his story of when he was behind on his mortgage and had to swallow his pride and ask them for help. “They gave me what I needed,” he said, and with Allah’s help saved his family from losing their home.
Imam Hasan Amin in an interview with the Muslim Link asked the suburban masajid to support MSSA. The agency is also available for outsourcing of social services for area Islamic Centers.
“Each masajid has unique needs, we would like to connect with each board and make arrangements. We know the resources and services,” he said. The agency has a good relationship with the Maryland Department of housing and the Baltimore City Health Department. Masajid can also give zakah money to the agency, as there are many local Muslims in need of those funds.
A recent program that they are conducting is giving disaster relief training living in low-income poverty stricken neighborhoods. In their Safe Haven Program, they serve local domestic violence shelter clients; if a client needs a safe place to live, away from her abuser, then MSSA would assist them in obtaining the security deposit and first month’s rent. Likewise, if a client needs bus fare in order to obtain employment MSSA assists them in purchasing a bus pass and job interviewing clothing.
$20 can provide a family of 4 fruits and vegetables for a week, according to the MSSA Facebook page, and a $200 can buy a laptop to support their successful fatherhood program at the Maya Angelou School.
MSSA also runs a food security program. "We are hoping to expand the program next year. Healthy food is an essential part of a social well-being,” said Imam Amin, who is also the chaplain at the John Hopkins Hospital. "It was the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] to share food with others. We are just continuing that Sunnah (practice).”
A story shared in a MSSA newsletter was about one of the recipients of MSSA services—Ms. Byrd, whose life changed when her daughter died leaving her to care for 7 grandchildren on a limited budget. "I can't afford to feed these children all the time. I try to feed them as best as possible. This food came right on time", exclaimed Ms. Byrd after receiving a package of food from the MSSA and Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby.
Ms. Byrd is a part of the 47 million Americans who are suffering from food insecurity. In order to address this epidemic MSSA distributed over 10,000 pounds of food to families with need on Sunday, November 24, 2013. The next event is planned on September 13, 2014. MSSA is planning to expand their food distribution program.
Attendees who have known of MSSA work for the past decade were happy to see the growth and admired the team for their consistency. “Lots of people have been helped by them in the neighborhood and the surrounding area,” said Saleema Amin.
For more information on MSSA and to donate to its programs, please visit www. muslimsocialservicesagency.org.