Ten Year Old Volunteer and Student Receives County Volunteer of the Year Nomination Award

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Howard County in Maryland holds an annual Volunteer of the Year event, where adults, youth, non-profits and businesses are nominated for Volunteer of the Year. Alhamedellah, this year one of ILIA’s students, Y. Halawa was nominated among only two youth in the under 18 category. Along with Halawa was sophomore K. Zheng from Glenelg High School. Halawa was nominated for his outreach efforts over the last year in promoting ILIA and many other volunteer activities which had an impact on dozens of youth in Maryland.¬†Halawa helped support fundraising for a youth center, assisted with youth programs in various localities throughout central Maryland from Oxen Hill to Baltimore and assisted with several back office tasks.

He assisted in raising funds for a new youth center to serve the youth. By himself he was able to raise over $3000 by sharing the vision and mission of the organization with the local community. He learned how to use technology to sign up donors, he learned how to talk in public and offer the opening speech at fundraising dinners, he has been able to explain to community members the value and need of the youth programming offered by ILIA. More importantly Halawa has been able to bring other youth into the organization and get them inspired about being active. In 2013 Halawa was one of many youth who raised over 10,000 lbs of canned food for the Howard County Food Bank as part of a community service project, however he was the youngest, yet collected the second largest amount of cans along with his brother, as a sub-team. Halawa has assisted our founder in many administrative tasks, taking notes at meetings with leaders of other non-profits, he posts new events on our website, and promotes youth programs online in facebook.

Ma shaa Allah, Halawa has positioned self as a role model to encourage other children and youth to step up to the responsibility and be active in Howard County. Also he helped the community raise very much needed funds. He raised more than 3% ($3,000) of all funds needed for the new regional center and youth resource property acquisition directly and his support with logistics helped raise close to 15% of the funds. Halawa has been able to help us with some data entry allowing our organization to apply to a grant on-time and meet our deadline.

When the men of the local ummah walked away at time of dire need to raise funds to acquire the ILIA facility, alhamedellah with the grace of our Lord he stepped up carrying a burden many double and triple his age should have, may Allah swt protect him. Halawa has been able to place Muslims of Howard County on the map at an official County ceremony and manifest the implementation of the ayah “You have been the best nation brought to mankind, commanding good, preventing evil and believing in Allah”. We all should be grateful to Allah swt that he blessed us with someone whose work can count for us all as having some impact in the society.

Watch video by ILIA’s President on the significance of the nomination, and our role as parents and adults.

Watch video of award ceremony with Howard County Executive Alan Kittleman and County Council Chairwoman Mary Kay Sigaty. After introductions by Andy Barth, Office of County Executive, Alan Kittleman shared the importance of non-profits and their role in providing much needed services for citizens, and that government cannot fulfill these obligations on its own without the support of non-profits and businesses who volunteer their services. An audio recording of the opening ceremony by County Executive can be heard here.

Pictures from the Award Ceremony held at Howard County on April 8th, 2015.

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From left to right, Howard County Executive Alan Kittleman, Islamic Leadership Institute of America student and volunteer and student at Clarksville Elementary School Y Halawa, Mary Kay Sigaty, Chairperson of the Howard County Council

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From left to right, Y. Halawa’s mother Mrs. Salama and County Executive Alan Kittleman chatting with children in attendance about school career project he presented to 5th grader J. Nassar’s class in 2014 while in fourth grade.