There’s an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
At MATTER, our goal is to go far in creating meaningful and lasting change in communities. But we know we cannot do this alone. The only way this kind of life-sustaining change is possible is through collaboration with our partners, donors, and supporters. With everyone doing their part, the collaborative impact on families and communities is immeasurable.
When Minneapolis was rocked with civil unrest in May, many neighborhoods in the area became food deserts overnight. Their grocery stores looted or burned down, the residents suddenly found themselves without access to food or groceries. The situation was urgent, and the needs were growing by the day.
Quickly responding to the situation was Muslim Aid USA. Based in Washington DC, Muslim Aid USA is an American international charity that provides aid to victims of natural disasters, conflict, poverty, and social injustice. Partnering with MATTER, they gave a generous donation so that we could deliver 10,000 meals to our community partners working on the front lines in the areas hardest hit by the rioting.
Recently MATTER had the privilege of meeting with Monem Salam, a representative from Muslim Aid USA. In addition to visiting several of the organizations that benefited from their donation, Monem also had the opportunity to pack MATTERbox meal kits with kids and volunteers from The Sanneh Foundation, another MATTER partner. Despite gloomy weather and a downpour or two, the day with Monem and our partners was a beautiful reflection of the power of collaboration to impact people’s lives.
MATTER’s partners set the bar high for dedication and compassion to those they serve. This was very evident when we visited Full Cycle, a bicycle enterprise shop that works with youth experiencing homelessness. Full Cycle builds relationships with young people through several unique programs and initiatives. One of their programs provides food by bike to local youth-serving agencies. Every week, Full Cycle delivers several hundred pounds of food, including MATTERbox meal kits and snack packs. Meeting with Monem and the MATTER team, Tyler Geisen, a street outreach worker with Full Cycle explained the importance of the MATTERbox food, “A lot of the youth we work with don’t eat very well because it’s so much cheaper to buy food that’s not healthy. Thanks to partners like MATTER, we can give them food that’s healthy but also food they’ll actually eat.”
Another amazing community partner is Avivo. Serving nearly 15,000 individuals every year, Avivo helps them achieve recovery, find housing stability, and achieve employment and economic advancement. MATTER is honored to support Avivo by providing them with MATTERbox meal kits and snack packs. For Program Director Karvee Kawalawu, the handwritten You MATTER notes of encouragement in every meal kit and snack pack are as important as the food. “It’s one thing to have healthy food but having a positive message to go with it is amazing. A lot of the people we work with have lost hope. The positive message is a way for us to start a conversation with them and remind them that they matter. It’s just one more reason I’m so grateful for our partnership with MATTER.”
Perhaps none of our community partners has more of a presence on the streets of Minneapolis than MAD DADS. MATTER is proud to partner with this organization which stands for Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder. Among their many programs and outreach services, MAD DADS can be found on street patrol with bags filled with MATTERbox snack packs. Sitting down with National and Local President, VJ Smith, he explained to us how important the snack packs are to the work they do. “One of the first things we found out it is that a snack pack is more than a meal. It’s a crime prevention tool. When a person is hungry, they’ll do just about anything to get some food. But you give them a snack pack and it helps them make better choices. Sometimes they’ll even come back and thank us because they knew they were going to do something negative when they were so hungry.”
Nourishing youth to help them towards a more stable life. Empowering people who have lost hope. Preventing crime. This is what happens when we go far together.
Our deepest thanks to Muslim Aid USA for helping MATTER support the vital work our partners are doing in our communities during this difficult time. We look forward to future collaborations with you both here in America and across the globe!