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This Inspires Me- A Letter from Waseem Ullah

Dear DREAM Supporter,

Asalaamu alaikum! Peace be upon you.

Early this month we all faced the cold reality that our beloved Champion and the greatest humanitarian, Muhammad Ali, would not be amongst us any longer. What he said and the life he lived still serves as a beacon of light for all of us:

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

I co-founded Dream of Detroit after being inspired by the transformative work I saw Muslims doing under the leadership of IMAN and Br. Rami Nashashibi in Chicago.

Their program to train formerly incarcerated Muslims to rehab homes—all while providing shelter and spiritual development for those brothers—resonated deeply with me, as it reminded me of the journey my father took through homelessness in Pakistan after the partition.

This year, DREAM’s own housing work is poised to make a huge leap, God-willing. But, actually, what’s motivated me lately is a different type of empowerment initiative—DREAM’s Entrepreneur Training Program.

I’m writing you today to ask that you help us make an investment in our budding entrepreneurs as they graduate in July and take the next step in their journeys.

DREAM's Entrepreneur Training Program in action

DREAM’s first class of entrepreneurs taking a look back at the lessons from weeks one through twelve.

Through the ProsperUS Detroit program, DREAM has been able to offer nearly 30 hours of instruction and coaching to six emerging businesses in the City of Detroit. In just this first cohort, we’re supporting a chocolatier, a shoe cobbler, a restauranteur, a dollar store operator, and a writer offering professional services.

We want to help our student-entrepreneurs get off to the best start possible, so we’re asking you to help us make an investment in them.

Will you make a gift today to help these budding entrepreneurs get off to a strong start?

It’s not easy being an entrepreneur—trust me, my partners and I have struggled to start two new businesses in the last year alone. That’s why I’m so moved by the commitment of this cohort of aspiring small business owners—and why I believe in the future of this Entrepreneur Training Program as a core part of DREAM’s offering to the local community.

Thanks for your continued support.

Waseem Ullah

 

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We’re Invested – A Letter from Thad And Baheejah Shakoor

Dear DREAM Supporter,

Asalaamu alaikum! Peace be upon you.

We can’t tell you how thrilled we are about the house that we just bought! Acquiring this home was like dream a come true (pun intended) and now we’re working every day to make it one of the most beautiful buildings on the street adjacent to our mosque.

If you believe, like we do, that our community has the power to transform this entire neighborhood—that the Believers can make this area a beacon of light for all of Detroit—will you make a small contribution today to support the work of DREAM? Your donation will help DREAM sell the next set of homes to new residents and responsible landlords.

Here we are on the porch of the home that we just bought and started rehabbing. We’ll be done by next month, God-willing.

By the grace of the Most High, we’ve been here from the start of this effort. Seven years ago, we helped found a group called Neighborly Needs to provide support and resources to the people living around the Muslim Center of Detroit. Several years later, Neighborly Needs partnered with the Indus Community Action Network to give birth to Dream of Detroit to accelerate our housing development work.

At each step in the process, we’ve become more and more convinced that the Muslim community and its allies—in metro Detroit and beyond—have the ability to bring this once beautiful neighborhood back to life, if we all chip in a little bit to make it a reality.

We make it a point to attend every DREAM event—the volunteer meetings, the clean up days, the tree plantings. All of it. Because when it’s all said and done, we want to be sure that we’ve played our part. For us, buying this home was the next phase in our commitment.

 

Our intention is to turn the lower level of the house into a rental property for the immediate future—and we’ve already lined up a faithful family eager to move in. We’ll turn the upstairs unit into an office space for Neighborly Needs, DREAM and any other organization sincerely serving the people of this community. We know that being filled by a loving family and community servants will make this home shine bright.

Trust us, if we could self-fund this entire development project, we would, but unfortunately, we aren’t in a position to buy every home that’s available. That’s why we’re turning to you—the supporters of DREAM—to ask that you double down on your commitment during this month of Ramadan.

Between now and July 30, we have a lot of work to do to make our neighborhood look pristine before we welcome tens, maybe hundreds, of prospective residents for a neighborhood Open House. We’ll need at least two more clean up days, we’ll need marketing materials, and we’ll need the support of professional inspectors, graphic designers, and contractors. In total, it’ll cost about $3,800 to do the important work that has to happen before DREAM’s Open House, where we hope to find buyers for at least our next five homes.

The gift you give today can go a long long way toward helping DREAM take the next step on its path to building a neighborhood we can all be proud of. Will you make a tax-deductible gift today?

We’re honored to be in community with you. Whether you donate today or not, please remember DREAM and every individual working hard on behalf of this project in your prayers during this blessed month.

Sincerely,
Thaddeus and Baheejah Shakoor

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ProsperUS First Class

Asalaamu alaikum! Peace be upon you.

On Monday night, we hosted our first session of the ProsperUS Detroit Entrepreneur Training Program! Our students are a dynamic group coming from unique backgrounds. Each has their own aspirations but on Monday they committed to helping each other take their businesses to another level over the next 20 weeks.

We won’t update you every week about the class, but we wanted you to see this inspiring group of students.

The firefighter who wants to open a gym. The wedding and event planner who’s ready for her own storefront. The chocolatier and the chef looking to break into the restaurant business. These are the types of entrepreneurs our neighborhood will need if we’re going to achieve our vision. Please pray for their success!

Like these photos on Facebook

Peace and blessings,

The Dream of Detroit team

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End Of Year Message

Asalaamu alaikum! Peace be upon you.

As 2015 comes to a close, we wanted to take a look back at what we’ve done together. With your support—be it your time, your financial help, or your prayers—we’ve made big strides in the last year.

We held calls, joined live video panels, and hosted events with incredible groups and people, like Ustadh Ubaydullah Evans of ALIM, Imam Mik’ail Saadiq of Detroit, Sr. Namira Islam and the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, Dr. Rami Nashashibi and the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, and Shaykh AbdulKarim Yahya and the Beacon Foundation.

We began rehabbing three more homes in our neighborhood, boarded up 20 vacant houses, planted more than 100 trees, and celebrated our success at a beautiful dinner.

And we were recognized for our work in well-read blogs like AltMuslim, Detroit’s newspaper of record, The Detroit Free Press, and international publications like The Guardian.

We know that there’s still plenty of work for us to do to realize the vision of the neighborhood and community that we want to see. But it’d be a shame if we didn’t pause to reflect and be grateful—to you, our supporters and family, and to the Most High, for allowing us to start making our dream a reality.

We’re looking forward to making 2016 an even bigger year, together.

Peace and blessings,
The Dream of Detroit team

 

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"The true life that God wants for all people—not one people—their true life is a life of cooperation… community life!"
- Imam W.D. Mohammed