Strong Youth building a Stronger America                                   Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

New Deputy Director Carl Holtman's message:

There is no other place that I’d rather be ... than The Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center

It has been one month since my arrival back to Columbus after two decades away, the majority of which was spent living in Turkey. Having been physically in the office these past four weeks and having the opportunity to interact with the staff and volunteers of MY Project USA as well as with the broader community as they come to our food market, I can assuredly say that there is no other place that I’d rather be and where I feel that an impact can be made than this youth center. 

The concept of “kismet” (fate) is something that became deeply ingrained in me during my time abroad. My wife and I had never planned on leaving Turkey – she had a great job managing study abroad programs for a small provider based out of New York, and I was busy recruiting international students for Wright State as well as overseeing the test center audits for a major English assessment organization. But as we all know, COVID had other plans for all of us. As nations shut their borders it meant that student mobility ground to a halt. Neither my wife nor I were immune to the shocks, as our main jobs suddenly ceased to exist.

It wasn’t very soon after that that I was scrolling through LinkedIn late one night in early December when I saw the job posting for Director of Education at MY Project USA. To be able to work for Ohio’s largest Muslim social services agency and develop programming for students that would see them progress into higher education was something I was extremely passionate about. After all, I had been helping predominantly Muslim youth access higher education opportunities in the U.S. for quite some time. Kismet.

I applied and Zerqa thought I was a better match for a bigger role: Deputy Executive Director. Here I am in that role. 

While I am not originally from the Hilltop area of Columbus, nor did I even really know of its existence when I lived here back in the 80’s and 90’s, I am already beginning to feel the sense of community here. The passion that our volunteers have on Saturday for the food market and the people we serve is effusive. I draw strength from this passion and want to do better every day for the people we serve as MY Project USA. I am humbled to have been handed this opportunity by Zerqa, and will always remember that it was kismet that brought me back to Columbus after all these years.        

I would also be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the contributions from our donors and funding agencies, without whom much of this work would not be possible. Know that your continuing contributions are helping a great cause, and I hope to be able to meet some of you in the very near future at our Interfaith Iftar on April 10th! 

Looking forward to serving the youth and families of the Hilltop and beyond, 

Carl Holtman, 
Deputy Executive Director, 
MY Project USA

Iftar Event Invite

8th Annual Interfaith Ramadan Iftar Dinner 2022

Seats are going fast - Register Online Now

This Ramadan, we will continue celebrating our village and the youth and their families that we have fostered together over the years. We will also be raising money to support our initiatives that have helped us in protecting and empowering our youth.

Please join us in person to celebrate our diversity, humanity, faiths and values that have built this amazing village of ours, by breaking the bread together and listening to phenomenal, inspiring speakers.

Basics of Credit Building Seminar

MY Project USA's Community Outreach Manager, Ms. Habiba Amin, is continuing to grow the relationship that our organization has with ECDI, a microlender with a mission to invest in people to create measurable and enduring social and economic change. A January workshop about how to start your own small business is being followed up tonight, March 11th,  with a session about the basics of credit and how credit scores can impact the opportunities that are available to individuals.   

Hilltop Sustainability Program Job opening

The City of Columbus and SWACO are partnering in the Hilltop on the Recycle Right program, encouraging families and residents to recycle using the city’s blue residential recycling container for biweekly collection. MY Project USA is currently recruiting volunteer and paid program ambassadors to assist in targeted educational outreach to Hilltop households on how to recycle correctly and how recycling benefits our community.

Hilltop Tigers Teams Have Won 11 Indoor Games This Season

Expanding The Program to 200 Kids - A New Girls Soccer Team

Wedgewood Soccer Field Might Become A Reality Soon

Ali Jeylani talks tactics

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor driving snow could keep our Hilltop Tigers program from being productive during the first two months of the year. When they aren't practicing at an indoor facility, they are utilizing our Youth Empowerment Center to discuss the latest tactics and develop strategies for upcoming games. 

Our U-10 team continues to exhibit great promise, with talented youngsters destined to make an impact at higher levels. Through seven games, the U-10 recorded three wins and four defeats. The U-13 team has racked up three wins from four games played so far, with four games remaining on the indoor schedule. The U-17 team is sitting on three wins and three losses from its six games, with two left on the schedule. The U-15 team coached by Ali Jeylani has played six games so far this year, posting a record of two wins, three losses and a draw during indoor 5 v 5 competition. "We are a much better outdoor team," Jeylani remarked," so our kids are eager to get back on real grass and play as a full team."

MY Project USA and its Hilltop Tigers program under the guidance of Board member Russ Harris have also been busy speaking with representatives from Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein's office about a soccer field project at the Wedgewood Apartments. There seems to be great support from the city and the developers who own the apartments to make this long-standing dream a reality. Assuming that comes to bear, it would mean the teams would be looking to grow their ranks and bring more youth into fold, even allowing us to start a girls soccer program. In the past, Columbus City Council's President  Pro Tempore Elizabeth Brown played a major role in clearing some of the obstacles from the ground and have been providing annual basic funding for this program. 

Hilltop Tigers Recruitment

Our Food Market Helped over 2,000 Individuals in February

Two New Deep Freezers Are Helping In Providing More Frozen Variety To Our Clients

Market Manager Abdi

Market Manager Abdi "Neymar" Idris doing an early morning restock of MY Project USA's Mid-Ohio Food Market

Our five-year partnership with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank to run a Food Market for the residents of Hilltop continues to be a success story. After a month-long drama of delivery issues due to backed-up supply chains, we finally have two brand new freezers up and running, ensuring a much wider variety of food options for the community members that depend upon us. 

In the month of February alone we served 534 households and a total of 2,142 individuals. Our market is open four days a week, allowing families to come once a week to fill an entire grocery cart will fresh produce, dairy products, a variety of dry and canned goods as well as practical items such as toothpaste and laundry detergent. Saturday is by far our busiest day of the week, and that is also the day that many volunteers come to our center to serve the members of our Hilltop community.

Youth Programs
Hilltop Tigers is a Movement

Share This


MY Project USA
3275 Sullivant Ave | Columbus, Ohio  43204
614-905-0977 |

Unsubscribe or Manage Your Preferences