A former church site and office complex that once housed an Islamic school has been turned into the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City’s new community outreach center.
About 275 people gathered Friday for the grand opening and dedication of the Islamic Society’s Mercy Mission Building at 3840 N St. Clair. The new center is adjacent to the Islamic Society’s mosque at 3815 N St. Clair.
Imad Enchassi, senior imam and the Islamic Society’s founder, said the society paid $500,000 for the property, which will house the organization’s outreach offices, a food pantry in partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, a free health clinic and women’s resource center.
“To give voice to the voiceless, to give hope to the hopeless, in God’s name, we dedicate this building to be a beacon to the community,” Enchassi said during a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication for the building.
Saad Mohammad, the society’s director of Islamic news and information, said the organization once rented the 10,000-square-foot building for its Mercy School for Islamic youths. Mohammad said after the school moved to another location, the Islamic Society envisioned purchasing the property for use as an outreach center and leaders were excited when the opportunity to buy the building arose recently.
“We waited 10 years for this,” he said.
Enchassi said the Islamic Society already partners with many metro social services organization and the new center will likely be a multipurpose site enabling those partnerships to thrive and expand.
Free clinic planned
Meanwhile, Dr. Bilal Piracha spoke to the crowd about plans to open the Shifa Free Clinic in the new center, in partnership with Islamic Council of North American Relief (ICNA Relief USA).
Piracha, a doctor at Integris Baptist Medical Center, and Dr. Farrukh Jawaid, a doctor at the Oklahoma City VA Hospital, said they had been looking at possible sites for a free clinic for several months and decided the new Mercy Mission Building would be a good place to offer the medical services to the community.
Jawaid said the building needs some renovation to make way for the clinic but that should be done within four to six months. He said the clinic will initially open to the community on the weekends and but may expand to some weekdays depending upon the availability of volunteer doctors, nurses and other helpers.
DeBorah Boneta, executive director of the Oklahoma City affiliate of the Surayya Anne Foundation, said she has already accepted several calls from metro women in need of the foundation’s support and resources.
Boneta said as leader of the metro arm of the Tulsa-based foundation, she will be helping to connect women in crisis situations with community resources. She said these situations could include a woman experiencing homelessness, a woman in need of food, clothing or household goods for herself and her children or, perhaps, support after being released from prison.
Boneta said many women in the local Muslim community have already donated items such as head scarves and pots and pans to be distributed to women seeking aid from the foundation.