“ What A Relief Podcast ” 95: How We Work With Neighbors...and WhyThis flashback episode of the “What a Relief!” podcast is chock full of great information about how Islamic Relief USA works together with partners across the United States to care for our neighbors.

Community engagement specialist Omar Nassimi had just returned from a trip to North Carolina where he had helped rebuild houses damaged by Hurricane Matthew.

“Entire neighborhoods are vacant a year after the hurricane,” he said. “A lot of times you think hurricane recovery means that you go down, you give people some water, some clothes, you give them some trailers and stuff, and eventually you kind of forget about it and move along in our lives.”

But the residents whose houses were broken or flooded hadn’t been able to move on, so neither did IRUSA. IRUSA teams were working with the United Methodist Church to help them get back home. Many of the homeowners were senior citizens who didn’t have the resources to do the work themselves.

“We were gutting out flooring, we were taking all the drywall and throwing it outside,” he said. “It’s really tough, tough work but it’s also very rewarding.”

A new project is getting underway in Houston, Texas, to do similar work for families affected by Hurricane Harvey. Anyone who wants to help can sign up at irusa.org/volunteers.

On this Giving Tuesday podcast, Omar pointed out that even though there was no current emergency, donor support is essential year-round.

“When there’s not an emergency in your face right now, people think that now is not the time to donate,” he said. “It’s actually the opposite. Most relief organizations need that money ahead of time, because if a disaster were to happen, we need that reserve, because we can’t wait for a week or a month for that money to start coming in and then get it out there.”

Host B.C. Dodge pointed out that the turkeys IRUSA had just distributed in Washington, D.C., were paid for by past donations.

“That money that we used was from last year,” he said, “so this year we’re gearing up for next year.”

IRUSA’s Tariq Toure pointed out that meals like that are more than just a meal—they’re valuable emotional support.

At the turkey distribution, Tariq said, a man told IRUSA staff, “Around this time is when a lot of people relapse into their addictions just because of the stress.”

So when a person who is under financial stress can pick up that special holiday meal for their family, that can relieve them from turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Omar agreed. At a Day of Dignity in Kentucky, he said, someone told him, ““I’ve never seen an organization give this level of care. The people who are here just care about us.” The man told Omar that it motivated him to struggle harder to get back on his feet.

Tariq explained how IRUSA works with local grassroots organizations to provide the kind of support that people really need.

“We’re not just plopping down in communities and saying we’re here to take over and save you,” he said.

Tune in to find out more about some of the grassroots efforts IRUSA is supporting—and how to get support for your own initiatives.

**And now you can reach out to us at our new email address: warp@irusa.org!**

“What a Relief!” is the official podcast of Islamic Relief USA. Hosted by digital media specialist B.C. DodgeIRUSA’s “What a Relief!” puts a human face on what’s going on in the world and how you can enact positive change in it. New episodes every week!

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