Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s (IM) 2015 “For All Humanity Luncheon” raised a record amount for IM’s Refugee Services program.
More than 340 guests attended the Nov. 19 luncheon, which raised $130,000 for refugee needs including household furniture, food, clothing and resettlement services such as English Language Instruction and job placement.
“To receive this much support is overwhelming, particularly with all that is currently happening regarding refugees from the Middle East,” said Martin B. Cominsky, IM’s President and CEO. “We are so grateful for the generosity found in Houston.”
So far this year, IM has resettled more than 1,400 refugees from countries all over the world fleeing religious, social, or economic persecution. Most of IM’s refugees are self-sufficient members of the community within six months of resettlement.
At this year’s luncheon, IM honored Nihala Zakaria with the 2015 Refugee Services Humanitarian Award. Zakaria who, along with husband IM Board Vice-Chair Shaukat Zakaria, is active in the refugee community. She helped launch IM’s Eid for Refugees program, which delivers gifts to refugees during the Islamic holiday.
“My personal experience with Interfaith Ministries has been a powerful one,” Zakaria told luncheon guests. “When you work with the refugees, you see their true perseverance and true desire to succeed. Many leave professional careers, to come to a land where they don’t speak the language, where they don’t know the customs. But they take that leap of faith and come here ready to work hard and rebuild their lives.”
Afghan refugee Zeba Arif-Mohammad told her own harrowing story of escape from abuse and poverty. After two years of screenings and background checks she arrived in Houston in June 2014 and, with IM’s help, started a new life for her and her two daughters.
In addition to numerous IM board members, others at the event included luncheon chairs Mandy Kao and Habiba Dhanani, Channel 13 Anchor Gina Gaston, who served as master of ceremonies and Chau Nguyen who welcomed refugee families at the luncheon. IM Board Chair, the Honorable Charles C. Foster, served as Honorary Luncheon Chair.
IM also recognized its major sponsors of the event including TFI Resources, Canon, Channel 13 and Amna and Nadim Jafri.