Noor group work is just part of her charitable deeds
Shama Qureshi finds helping others to be her solace.
Public service has almost always been part of her life, first as a teacher and then – after she retired in 1996 – as an advocate and tutor to children and refugees. Her volunteer work became more significant after her husband died in October, she said.
“Because I was a teacher, it’s something that I love to do. I’m not doing it (volunteer work) because I feel obligated to do it,” said Qureshi, 73. “Since I’ve become a widow, it’s what keeps me going.”
Mohsin Qureshi, 79, and Shama were married for 50 years. Shama Qureshi, who is known by some as Sandy, converted to Islam after meeting her Pakistani husband at the University of Michigan.
Her favorite of the Five Pillars of Islam is zakat, which requires the faithful to give 2 percent of what they earn to charity each year. Beyond financial donations, Qureshi said there is also an obligation to give of one’s time and talents to those in need.
“When I was teaching, I didn’t have time do very much, but I knew that was what I would do when I retired,” she said of volunteering.
A month after she retired in June 2006, Qureshi and her husband moved from Chicago to SaddleBrooke. Qureshi said some Arizona mines were closing, and people were struggling. To help, she worked with others to start SaddleBrooke Community Outreach, which included a children’s clothing bank. The Kids’ Closet is now in San Manuel, Qureshi said, and more than 3,000 children benefit each year.
Qureshi also helped start Tucson’s Noor Women’s Association more than 10 years ago. The interfaith organization helps refugees.
As part of her work with Noor, Qureshi visits several refugee families each week to provide tutoring and support.
Right now, Iraqi and Bhutanese refugees represent the largest groups they are assisting. During the last year, Qureshi said, they have helped more than 250 people with rent, food, tutoring and medical expenses.
“There’s something really good and satisfying and wonderful about helping someone else be happy,” she said. “It changes your energy level. It’s a breath of fresh air to get away from yourself and do something for somebody else.”
By: Patty Machelor
Arizona Daily Star
Dec 30, 2009