Directly beneath Straub’s of Clayton Rd., interns Atif Shamail and Shehmin Awan nervously packed up the vacuum in their executive director’s office. The rest of the CAIR team and early guests-turned-volunteers lent hands in the lobby for last minute printing, product placement, and arranging literature tucked into bookcases flanking a giant flat screen TV along the eastern wall.
CAIR-MO, Council on American-Islamic Relations-Missouri, celebrated their St.Louis office open house on February 19, 2017 with huge success, inspiring momentum to blaze forward. Humble projections for attendance were cast aside when over 150 visitors strengthened ties with the civil rights advocacy team over lively conversation from 1pm to 5pm that Sunday. Guests were also treated to snacks and homemade ethnic cuisine and sweet pastries donated by Humaira Qalbani. It took two people, Dr. Anjum Shariff, board President, and Faizan Syed, Executive Director, to calm the lively crowd for formal introductions at 2pm.
For CAIR-MO staff themselves, the most memorable part was the generous attendance and the inspiration it yielded. Chris Caras, CAIR-MO’s outreach director, also noted attendant diversity while Ian Mooney, intern and volunteer coordinator, was energized by the didactic discussions taking place around him. Linah Elnashar, entrepreneur and assistant to CAIR-MO, enjoyed the networking opportunity as she looks forward to representing Muslims and CAIR at the liberal women meeting this Monday. Yusra Ali, event coordinator for CAIR-MO, won't forget the fiery chatter with local artists coming out to support and be involved. Yusra is overseeing an upcoming event, “Creativity and Identity: A Muslim-American Art Exhibit”.
CAIR-MO team attendees not mentioned previously include Yasir Ali, Sadia Ali, Omar Malik, Ali Chaudry, Omar Memon, Meraj Sirajuddin, and Naveen Ayesh. Absent for travel was Robert West, CAIR-MO attorney.
CAIR-MO was grateful to welcome guests aligned with their tradition of peace, justice, and freedom of faith. Allies for political peace included representative Bill Otto among many democratic and bi-partisan activists. For justice advocacy, members of the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) and New Legal Alliance came. Faith leaders and representatives of many local religious organizations and groups, including Metropolitan Congregations United and Ethical Society of St.Louis were also in force.
When the event came to a close and remaining guests left warmly, CAIR-MO staff gathered the volunteer sign-up forms littered about the office. Sweet smell lingered, from cookies and cake as well as the encouraging words that still hung in the air. CAIR-MO invites everyone to follow them for future events and opportunities to help out Muslim minorities and bring hope to a healing nation.