Our Volunteers Make the Difference!admin
Name: Musa Bashaar Lughmani
Positions in HF:
- President, Humanity First Student Organization (HFSO) at the University of Toledo, Toledo Ohio
- Humanity First Ambassador for Detroit, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio
What have you been doing to impact change in the community during this pandemic?
- We started out with a few volunteers joining to make 50 hygiene packs for local pulmonary patients. It included a soap bar and a few information brochures on COVID made by HF, and also included a small sheet with a mental health exercise routine.
- Additionally, 3 volunteers went to donate blood to the Red Cross. Only 1 was able to donate, and donated a total of 2 units.
- We called the mayor’s office and introduced ourselves as HF, and we expressed that we could provide volunteers wherever is needed. He connected us with United Way which had set up a robust system of food distribution to school kids throughout Toledo. The idea is that areas, where most kids are reliant on free or subsidized school food that are now out of school, are provided with lunch and breakfast meal packs. Our HFSO set up our own recruiting volunteers from our university and sign them up for volunteering with United Way. We have a google sheets sign up and a google forms system managed by appointed volunteers from our HFSO. This is an ongoing project that will go until August most likely. HF volunteers have so far distributed 898 meal packs to kids. (https://twitter.com/HFUSA/status/1246127873833996289?s=09 – HF USA tweet about Toledo’s work)
- Our second major initiative through the HFSO is tutoring through The Education Project. We have 15+ volunteers for this initiative. The idea here is that with schools online, kids have less access to teachers and peers, so tutoring would fill that void and provide the support they need to succeed. Our HFSO has an independent system for recruiting tutors and we have administrative volunteers that will help them sign up with The Education Project. So far we have done about 30 volunteer hours of tutoring from all our HFSO tutors.
- Lastly, an initiative actually taken on by my grandmother, Manzoor Un Nisa, we have started to make masks for clinics in the area. She realised that many people do not have masks, and while in quarantine she decided to use her time to help out in this project. She has made 70 masks so far, and in partnership with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association here in Toledo, we have two other volunteers to begin making masks as well. (https://twitter.com/HFUSA/status/1258124255180599298?s=20 – HF USA tweet about my grandma)
What do you find most challenging about volunteering?
- The most challenging part for me was not the act itself, but advertising our work. As offices are closed at the university, it was difficult to reach out to avenues to spread the word. But thankfully our connections within our HFSO were vast enough to keep us going.
Collaborating and reaching out to mayor:
- In terms of collaborating, all it takes is a phone call. At the beginning, I had a few HFSO volunteers help me reach out to all the nursing homes in the area, and after that, when no need was found, I called the mayor’s office, and they were happy to connect me with the only major volunteering opportunity, which was through United Way.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while volunteering?
- One story that I will not forget is from volunteering with United Way. A mother of seven young kids and their unemployed father came to our food distribution site regularly. They expressed just how difficult it was for them to bring food on the table for all their kids, as they used to rely on the free school food. To be able to provide that family this support was really touching.
- Another parent came back just to thank us, saying “My son had the best breakfast of his life, thank you!”
- As a tutor, I am tutoring a fourth-grader who was struggling with basic addition and multiplication. After a few weeks of practice, we have developed confidence with adding large numbers and taking it one step at a time he is realizing his abilities. As his mother only understands Spanish, I was appointed, being a Spanish minor, to be his tutor so that I could communicate with his mother. It has been a good experience so far and am looking forward to continuing working with him.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?
- To someone who is thinking of volunteering, I would say that there is so much good work going on out there, and they are always looking for volunteers. Gather a few friends and take them to a local food pantry, and get started. If not, make your own opportunity such as the mask making initiative. All it takes is a few volunteers and motivation to make a change.