On Saturday evening, March 2nd, we drove over to La Villa Banquet Hall on Brookpark Road in Cleveland where we attended the annual fundraising dinner of the West Cleveland Muslim Association (WCMA). This was our first time visiting a WCMA gathering, but we were greeted warmly by all whom we talked to. Perhaps the reason for the high spirits was that, at the end of 2018, WCMA has at last secured a building to serve as its community center, which has been sorely needed for some time. The building is near Columbia Road and Detroit Avenue in Westlake. Currently a gymnasium, it will be converted in several phases into the community center.
Accordingly, one of the goals for this evening event was “to acquire the necessary funds for completion of Phase 1 renovations and fulfillment of the city of Westlake requirements for building occupancy permit.” These requirements include: resurfacing of the parking lot, replacement of existing sidewalks, installation of exterior lighting, and fulfilling ADA requirements. These are very achievable goals and the organization feels that it will be able to occupy the building in just a few months.
Ultimately, they plan to use the structure and its grounds for religious services, community events, Islamic studies, sports and recreation, and youth activities.
On the latter point, Ms. Anwar Mustafa, who is very actively involved with the youth group, organized a short presentation in which the young people present embraced the virtues of leading a purposeful life via upstanding moral concepts. Ms. Mustafa said that she hoped that the locale would provide a relaxing atmosphere which will enable the youngsters to both learn and take part in energetic undertakings aimed at preparing them to eventually be outstanding leaders.
One goal that particularly interested us was that the Center might become a location for a program that would provide assistance to Muslim immigrants and refugees by connecting them with the needed resources to, as was written on a slide, “establish a stable productive life in our region.”
In the course of the evening, Mr. Musab Abdallah acted as the master of ceremonies and introduced such speakers as:
- Dr. Fares Raslan and Dr. Ossama Lashin who, in turn, discussed the history of the project and offered a very impressively detailed breakdown of the finances involved as well as the specifics on the property itself and how it is well-suited to the ambitions of the WCMA.
- Sheikh Musa Sugapong who spoke thoughtfully on the necessity of finding the balance between using earned resources for a comfortable lifestyle as well as donating generously to worthy projects that provide spiritual enhancement.
- Cleveland City Councilperson Basheer S. Jones who noted that involvement in the community center project a form of unity which he believed was very important especially when one considers these turbulent political times wherein Muslims have often been unfairly maligned.
- Sheikh Alaa El Sayed who coordinated the portion of the evening that involved the actual raising of monies and he succeeded more than admirably because he inspired many people to evaluate their priorities and be bountiful with their gifts.
Finally, Mayor Dennis Clough of Westlake joyously welcomed the WCMA into the city that he represented. Based on his experiences working with the WCMA representatives and the high level of commitment that he had witnessed that evening, Mayor Clough was certain that the endeavor will prove to be “a shining example” of coming together for the common good.