"People, Peace, and Public Service"
On building interfaith communication
Volunteering for your community brings about a unique sensation; a kind of spiritual high. It’s uplifting. That feeling makes you want to do it more and more. I figured this out early on, when I volunteered at hospitals and nursing homes as a National Honor Society member during my high school years. To this day, I have never forgotten how little it takes to bring a smile to someone’s face or how offering just a little bit of help can have profound impact on someone’s life.
Ever since those days back in high school, I’ve taken volunteering to heart. In 2001, my wife and I began spending our Sunday mornings teaching Sunday school to more than 700 young people. This spurred us to become a volunteering team, and we continue to find ways to support our community—and the people in it—together. Part of that teamwork of volunteerism is working with a nonprofit organization that aims to correct misconceptions about Islam and make the case that our beliefs are built on peace and mutual respect.
I truly believe the best way to break down barriers and promote multicultural understanding is to get to know your neighbors. Our mosque has hosted several open houses to bring people from around the community together to learn more about each other. Guests get a chance to tour the mosque, interact one on one with members, and enjoy delicious, ethnic food. They leave with information on our community, pamphlets on the tenets of Islam, and, most importantly, a greater consciousness of the values we all share. In less than two years, attendance at these open houses has grown from 40 to 400 people, including members of Congress, mayors, and state representatives. We’ve built bridges and alliances with people of all faiths and from all walks of life.
April is National Volunteer Month, a time when we step back and think about all those who are giving back to their communities. I’m proud and humbled to serve. I’m also proud to be a part of a diverse team at AT&T that values and mirrors my commitment to service. To learn more how my colleagues are giving back this month and throughout the year, go here.
About the Author: AT&T Technology Operations Principal Aamer Abdul-Jaleel is a 2017 President’s Volunteer Service Award winner based out of Chicago. He is dedicated to organizing interfaith activities to help build bridges within communities, such as mosques, churches and synagogues.