KindWorks: Nurturing Community and Volunteerism

Published in American Pakistan Foundation Blog
April 17, 2020

KindWorks is an organization that promotes community and service through organizing daily volunteer opportunities based in the Washington, D.C. area. Underlying this mission is a desire to nurture diverse communities that support one another over time.

Our volunteers engage in a variety of projects, including cooking nutritious meals with recovered food for the homeless; preparing and serving dinners and hosting bingo and birthday parties at local shelters; mentoring and leading a chess program for inmates; and setting up homes for refugee families. KindWorks has set up nearly 100 homes for refugees from all around the world, including Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Ethiopia, the Congo, and El Salvador.

“Our mission is simple – to inspire action for a kinder world. We do this by making it easy for busy people to take part in community service. In the process, we build community and a sense of commitment to each other.”

TWO FAMILIES COME TO WASHINGTON

In early March, KindWorks awaited the arrival of two large refugee families who were moving from Afghanistan and the Congo to the Washington, D.C. area. Their arrival during the coronavirus outbreak made our usual set up a bit more complicated, but we worked closely with the International Rescue Committee to take every precaution, and managed to set up a comfortable home, stock a full pantry, and leave plenty of toys and games for the kids.

A friend of KindWorks donated furniture for the families’ apartments. On a Saturday morning, KindWorkers joined members from a church, mosque, and synagogue to assemble bunk beds, fill the pantry, assemble an exquisite wooden dining table, hang artwork, fold linens, stack toys and games, and put all the finishing touches that turn bare rooms into a warm and welcoming home. Some children playing soccer outside joined in our efforts to build beds.

We signed and left a welcome card on the table that read “Welcome to America. We are so excited that you’re here and hope the apartment provides some comfort after your long journey. America is better with you here.”

A WELCOMING MEAL

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Noor and Basma, for whom KindWorks set up apartments, teach a Syrian cooking class.

KindWorkers typically get together to cook a welcome meal which includes dishes from the arriving family’s country of origin. However, that became impossible as the pandemic situation continued to deteriorate and social distancing put into place.

I called my friend Omar Masroor, the founder of Afghan restaurant Bistro Aracosia, to ask if he could prepare a meal for the Afghan family. Not hesitating for a second, Omar said “it would be our pleasure.” He donated a feast of Kabuli pulao, mantu, chicken lawaan, sabzi lawaan, bread and chutneys. The local Nando’s Restaurant also donated dinner for the Congolese family.

In advance of the families’ arrival, KindWorkers drove to the apartments and tucked the food into the fridge. We were comforted knowing that their first meal in America would be nurturing, delicious, and familiar.

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KindWorks CIO Salma Hasan Ali, Executive Director Deb Lang, and Board Chair Denise Schleckser.

KindWorks CIO Salma Hasan Ali, Executive Director Deb Lang, and Board Chair Denise Schleckser.

I’ve launched a blog called ‘humanKIND’ with the word “kind” in big bold letters. I don’t think it’s an accident that “kind” is in the word “humankind.” Our humanity is wrapped up in being kind to one another, and kindness is the only way to preserve our humanity (please follow ‘humanKIND’ on Instagram @salmahasanali).

KindWorks’ projects offer people a chance to understand the concept of humanKIND. Our goal is to provide everyone an opportunity – through volunteerism and kindness – to realize that our stories are intertwined with one another and that we are not isolated. Rather, we are part of a larger, longer, and deeper continuum of people arriving, growing roots, and depending on one another.

It will take the involvement of each and every one of us to deepen our connection and commitment to each other.  Now more than ever.

Read at American Pakistan Foundation: https://www.americanpakistan.org/kindworks-blog-post

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