SoFlo Profiles of Service to Humanity - Shahnaaz Yasin
SoFlo Profiles of Service to Humanity
The South Florida Muslim population is vibrant, diverse, and socially engaged. We hope in this blog to bring you a number of different voices that make up the SoFlo Muslim community. Each month we will be highlighting an individual that has decided to go above and beyond themselves. The common thread of all the individuals profiled is their dedication to serving the community at large, regardless of faith. We also hope to inspire you to different pathways that one can get involved, big or small, in your own unique way.
What type of community work do you do?
I am the Director of Finance at Feeding South Florida which is the largest food bank in South Florida providing hunger-relief to over 700,000 individuals, families, kids, and elderly in our community. I am the President of the Muslim Women’s Organization of South Florida which provides opportunities for women and their families to be actively involved in community service, philanthropy, and personal development. I am also a committee planning member at Susan B. Anthony Recovery Center for Women and Children where we recognize and uplift women in our community that has made a difference and those that have made milestone achievements towards a healthier lifestyle.
What brought you to South Florida?
A couple of years after my dad passed away, my mom moved with her four kids (me included!) to South Florida so that we could have more opportunities for a better life with education, safety, and growth. We settled in and stayed, went away for college, work, and travel, but eventually came back full circle. South Florida is home!
What causes are you passionate about?
I like to help wherever I can. I’m especially drawn to causes that help to alleviate hunger, homelessness…especially for children. As a child, my parents would invite all the kids from the orphanage to our birthday parties. We didn’t invite friends or schools, kids, like the way everyone else does. The birthday parties (4 times per year) were awesome and the kids always had a wonderful time. We had pony rides, magic shows, and tons of cake, ice cream and goody bags! Learning to share your special day with kids who are less fortunate than you and seeing how happy they were was the best way my parents could teach us how to be mindful of others and to be kind to others. I think it’s why I love birthdays so much!
Can you give a piece of advice on how to get active in the community?
If you see an opportunity to volunteer and it’s interesting to you…then just make up your mind to do it…and then do it! I think becoming active is something that is an innate feeling that has to come from deep inside of you. You really have to want it. A lot of times, I hear people “say” they want to be active, but they make excuses about timing, commitment, work, family, kids, and maybe they even let fears of not knowing anyone gets in their way. I think you have to want to commit and you have to just take the dive…what’s the worst that could happen.
One Jummah day, I heard an announcement for an organization that needed volunteers. After Jummah, I made my way over to the men’s side and inquired about the opportunity. Every time after that day, I would meet the brother who made the announcements and he would tell me about all the upcoming opportunities where I could get involved….and then I would just do it. That’s how I got involved, a bit of my own innate desire and commitment had met with opportunities. I’ve also volunteered at several opportunities and discovered it didn’t match my interests. But I moved on and found other opportunities where I have an interest and where I can hopefully be helpful. Also, doing a one-time volunteer event is not going to get you active. You have to consistently come back to the same organization, get to know the people, talk to the leaders and let them know you want to be involved. And then when they ask you to help…show up and help!
Can you give us a personal story that makes South Florida so unique?
Where else can you be and have one half of your body in total sunshine and the other half being soaked by the rain all at the same time? Only in South Florida!