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In this newsletter: 

  1. MY Project USA Will Pay $1.6M in Human Services to Empower 120,000 Clients in 2023 - Message from Zerqa Abid
  2. NBC4 Speaks to MY Project USA About New Gang Enforcement Unit
  3. Dental Care Drive Underway in Honor of Deah Barakat
  4. New Store in Hilliard - Grand Opening Feb. 17th, 2023
  5. MY Project USA Kicks Off Juvenile Justice Training
  6. MY Project USA  & Turkish American Society of Ohio Join Forces
  7. MY Project USA Aids Afghan Refugees in Getting Licenses
  8. Hispanic Community Empowered by MY Project USA
  9. After-School Programs Help At-Risk Students
  10. MY Family Pantry Passes About 36,000 Meals & Snacks Last Week
  11. It’s a ‘Postal Party’ at MYPUSA
  12. Issa Jeylani Memorial Fundraiser
  13. Helpline: Rent & Utilities Support Information for Clients
  14. MY Deah's Warehouse Donation Bins Locations

MY Project USA Will Pay $1.6M in Human Resources To Empower 120,000 Youth & Adults in 2023

About 650,000 meals and snacks will be passed in 2023, InshaAllah

Your donations will brighten hundreds of futures and will go a long way 

Dear Family,

Last week I shared with you that we aim to invest at least $3 million in protecting, empowering and uplifting our clients in 2023. Currently, we are serving about 2,100 clients weekly through various programs. Therefore, we project to serve 120,000 clients this year. This will include about 80,000 children. We will be directly working with more than 300 children this year in our various youth development programs. 

Half of this amount ($1.6 million) is allocated for wages, benefits and purchased services for various programs. This money will help us contribute to the economy through job creation. We are building the capacity of new Americans and underserved communities through on-the-job training, ESL and driving classes and other needed training. We are hiring highly qualified people to train our less-trained employees and clients, and it is working. This is a factory line to produce a good workforce to empower our economy and to ensure a prosperous future for families that are currently 200% under the poverty line. 

To sustain this growth, I am working tirelessly to secure more grants and corporate donations. I have already secured $1 million for this year. Our treasurer Russ Harris and Donor Engagement Committee Chair Ajmeri Hoque are also working on a robust plan of fundraising in partnership with other community organizations. In addition, we are opening three new social enterprises this year to generate revenue for our programs.

Global Gifts & Thrift store is in Hilliard. Its grand opening is next Friday. See more info below.

MY Community Cafe, a pay-forward restaurant, will be at our Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center. We will be able to feed nutritious and halal food to all children in our program, homeless and other needy families through your donations. The soft opening is this month and the grand opening of this cafe will be on March 10, inshaAllah (God willing). 

The Issa Jeylani Memorial Recreational Center will also be a social enterprise as we will be renting the indoor spaces to other parties during hours not used by our program. We project to raise at least $500,000 annually once fully in operation. This will be a great resource to support hundreds of children throughout the year for years to come, inshaAllah. 

Last but not least, MY Deah's Warehouse and Donation Center will continue to work on the Goodwill stores model. It will be supporting our families by providing furniture, household items and other support as we will continue selling containers of extra used clothes, shoes and items to put money back into our programs. 

I hope this letter would help you understand more about the financial infrastructure of our organization and how we are working very hard to multiply and expand the impact of your dollars as much as possible. 

I am truly humbled and awed by this growth, and the outcomes of MY Project USA. This was not at all possible without your presence, prayers, contributions and support in different forms and ways. Thank you so very much for everything. Please continue supporting us so we can keep benefiting more people with tangible, strategic, meaningful support that would change their lives forever. 

Thank you for being a part of MY Project USA’s Village.

In Solidarity with Youth & Families, 

Zerqa Abid,
Founder & Executive Director
MY Project USA 


NBC4 Speaks to Zerqa Abid About New Gang Enforcement Unit

Thank you to Anna Hoffman of WCMH NBC4 for her recent report on a new gang enforcement unit created by the Columbus Division of Police.

MY Project USA founder and Executive Director Zerqa Abid was interviewed as a community leader. Abid stated her hope that the new unit, which will target adult gang members, will produce good results but that the new unit is only half of the solution because many kids are also caught up in gang violence. 

Abid hopes the new unit will work with community leaders.

“If this commission, this unit is going to work with the community leaders and work along with us, I think this could make a big difference and it could really help,” Abid said. “But at the same time, only time will tell what is going to be helpful for us.”

MY Project USA continues to be proud to lead the movement in Wedgewood in partnership with the  Wedgewood Administration, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein's team, Columbus Division of Police, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department and other partners. We all work to find and implement solutions to create a safer neighborhood for the residents of Wedgewood.

MYPUSA continues to work with these partners on Wedgewood "Community Power Hours," which take place on Fridays. In January, there was "Safe Crime Reporting Training" by Columbus Police, a “Spruce Up with Cops” event for a Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day, a "Safe Neighborhood Discussion" with police officers and a "Family Game Day" held at MY Project USA. 

There is also work toward building a resident council with members acting as a voice for the community.


Dental Care Drive Underway in Honor of Deah Barakat

Deah, a 23-year-old student at the University Of North Carolina School Of Dentistry, hoped to fundraise $20,000 for a summer trip to Turkey to provide dental care to Syrian refugees. Unfortunately, he, his wife Yusor and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were shot to death in North Carolina in a hate crime on Feb. 10, 2015. Each year, MY Family Pantry at MY Project USA commemorates him and Abu-Salhas in February. We paused our dental drive during the pandemic, but we are reviving it.

Goal: 2,500 supplies / $1,500

We are aiming to distribute more than 2,500 tubes of toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss and mouthwash to 500 refugees and needy families in Columbus who can’t afford them. We serve more than 500 families at our pantry weekly.

Please donate using the button below or send your donations through the following options.

Drop Off Locations:
3275 Sullivant Ave., Columbus, OH 43204
4730 Cemetery Rd., Hilliard, OH 43026

More Info: (614) 373-9360 I pantry@myprojectusa.org


MY Project USA Kicks Off Juvenile Justice Training

Thanks to the leadership of MY Project USA Board member and Franklin County judge, Judge Sheryl Munson, MY Justice Warriors hosted an event on Saturday, Feb. 4 for students interested in law at the Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center. 

More than a dozen students attended in-person and online via Zoom, and they got first-hand knowledge from six key members of our juvenile system. We were proud to have Judge Munson, Judge Lasheyl Stroud, Judge Monica Hawkins, prosecutors Irene Knapp and Chris Julian and public defender Rebecca Steele educate our students on the system they work in. 

They gave a very well-rounded perspective to our students, and it was a truly amazing experience.

MY Project USA would like to thank Abrial Mahmoud and Nate Reitz of MY Justice Warriors for all of their hard work! They are volunteer admins of MY Justice Warriors. 

MY Justice Warriors is an initiative of MY Project USA. It’s a dream come true for our founder & Executive Director Zerqa Abid, who is grateful to Judge Munson for making it a reality. We hope to empower our youth and community with the knowledge and skills necessary for them to bring justice to our underserved communities.


MYPUSA Staffers Visit TASO, Discuss Future Plans

Thank you to the Turkish American Society of Ohio, who hosted founder & Executive Director Zerqa Abid,
Director of Administration Uzair Qidwai and Director of Community Development Sami Omerzai on Saturday, Feb. 4.

MY Project USA was honored by the invitation by the TASO board. Abid gave a well-received presentation to those in attendance, and the two organizations discussed opportunities to collaborate on future programming. TASO also expressed an interest in providing aid and donations for the at-risk communities MYPUSA serves.


MYPUSA Aids Afghan Refugees in Getting Licenses

MY Project USA would like to congratulate Khisroao Shaor and Mohammad Salim Abdul Qayoum, two men who recently earned their driver's license with the help of MYPUSA.

Mr. Shaor arrived in Ohio from Afghanistan in August 2022. He had initially struggled to get his driver’s permit, failing three times, before getting connected with MY Project USA’s Community Development team. Director of Community Development Sami Omerzai helped Shaor first get his driver’s permit before eventually getting his license two months ago.

“To be honest, when I had no license or permit, I had to rely on other people,” said Shaor, who was hired as an ESL instructor by MY Project USA. “Life is busy in the states, everyone has their own plates full, so I was kind of going through lots of difficulties. Especially buying groceries and food items for my family.

“After I got my license, my life has changed. Much more freedom. I have a job. I can take my kids to parks.”

Mr. Qayoum arrived from Kabul, Afghanistan, in June 2021. He credits MYPUSA with helping him navigate the process of becoming a legal driver in Ohio.

“The process was really smooth and easy,” Qayoum said. “and I want to thank MY Project USA for giving us assistance.”

Watch this video to hear more from Mr. Shaor and Mr. Qayoum. MYPUSA would like to thank the Welcome Fund, which funds our Afghan Refugee Driving License Program. Mr. Shaor and Mr. Qayoum are two of the latest refugees to earn their driver’s license, and several others are currently in the process of trying to acquire theirs.

Another special thanks goes to Omerzai for his tireless work and to his assistant Noorullah Khan Shinwari and the rest of our hard working volunteers who help these newcomers to America.


Hispanic Community Empowered by MY Project USA

MY Project USA, in partnership with Alianza 614, held a pair of events in January for Hispanic Community Power Hours.

Our awesome Director of Community Development Sami Omerzai is in charge of this program. He is assisted by Br. Noorullah Khan Shinwari. 

The first event was on Thursday, Jan. 12. A total of 12 families, including 22 men and women, participated in a “Home Fire Preparedness” event with the American Red Cross. The Red Cross delivered resources for fire safety, prevention and basic precautions to take in case of a house fire. Attendees were also informed where to obtain fire alarms for their residences. Everyone also was served delicious food.

On Thursday, Jan. 26, 25 people attended a seminar on how to buy a house. Attendees were informed about the process of buying a home, worked on gaining confidence when talking to a mortgage financier and got answers to various other questions.

MY Project USA would like to thank our partner, Alianza 614, for their support, as well as thank the Franklinton Development Association for their funding.


MYPUSA After-School Programs Help At-Risk Students 

Led by Education Consultant Dr. Sharon Watkins, Education Programs Manager Jenna Herron and Youth Program Director Katana Mullen, MY Project USA has been hard at work holding after-school programs at West High School, Eakin Elementary School and the Wedgewood Community Center throughout the week.

Students work on academic activities including homework assignments, writing skills, reading skills and community service projects. 

MYPUSA works with anywhere between 15-to-30 high school students on any given day. About  100 students from West have participated in the program, which is held Monday through Thursday from 2:30-5:30 p.m. in the WHS media center. These students complete homework assignments, work on credit recovery to earn high school credits to either advance or catch up on their academic record. This program has helped students catch up on their academic record so they can graduate on time.

The middle school program is the newest. It kicked off in January at the Westwood Community Center and is held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2:30-5 p.m. in the center’s community room. Tutoring sessions are held, as are tech labs, teen talks, partner programs and service learning. 

The elementary program runs Monday through Friday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the library at Eakin.

We are so very grateful for the efforts of Dr. Watkins, Katana, Jenna and all of the other volunteers who help empower these students to be the best they can be.


MY Family Pantry Passes About 36,000 Meals & Snacks Last Week

For the week of Jan. 28, MY Family Pantry provided much-needed food and household necessities to a total of 557 families and 1,852 individuals.

MY Project USA is thankful to all of its volunteers, including our Director MY Family Pantry Ramy El-Assal, and their Pantry Executive Team members, and our Mid-Ohio Market at MY Project USA manager Nasir Khan Shinwari, who worked hard to provide fruits, vegetables, meat, snacks and pastries. The menu included apples, carrots, canned goods, and more. Household necessities included wipes and feminine products. 

The impact these men and women have made on our clients is immeasurable. Thank you to all who make the pantry experience fast and smooth.

Mid-Ohio Market at MY Project USA is a collaborative initiative of MY Project USA and Mid-Ohio Food Collective powered by MY Family Pantry volunteers and staff. We distribute fresh produce and groceries to hundreds of individuals in our community every week.


It’s a ‘Postal Party’ at MYPUSA

At MY Project USA, we are all about teamwork and togetherness. That was on display on Friday as the staff gathered together to have a “Postal Party.”

For the unaware, a MYPUSA Postal Party is when the staff works together to get mailings ready to go out. This time, we worked on getting end of year donation receipt letters ready to go to the U.S. Postal Service for delivery. Keep your eyes peeled for your letter if you donated in 2022!

Those pictured here, from left to right, are Matthew Hager (Communications Specialist), Perla Marron (Office Manager), Noorullah Khan Shinwari Assistant Community Manager, Katana Mullens (Youth Program Director), Uzair Qidwai (Director of Administration) and Nasir Khan Shinwari Food Market Manager. Thanks to all for their help! Missing in the picture from the admin team were Founder & Executive Director Zerqa Abid, who was behind the camera, and our Education Consultant Dr. Sharon Watkins and Treasurer Russ Harris.


MY Helpline: 

Rent & Utilities Support Available At MY Project USA

We have been working very hard in securing grants and building collaboration with other partners to help our clients. Thanks to The Columbus Foundation, United Way of Central Ohio, and IMPACT Community Action, we are still able to help more of our families with their rent and utilities. If you or someone you know needs help, please ask them to contact us at (614) 905-0977 or helpadmin@myprojectusa.org


8 Locations In Columbus To Drop Off Donations - Truck Pick Up Available For Large Donations

You can now drop off your donations of new and gently used clothes, shoes, books, toys and other small non-breakable items in a donation box near you. These locations include: 

  • Noor Islamic Cultural Center -  5001 Wilcox Rd. Dublin 43016
  • Masjid Nimrah - 4501 Refugee Rd, Columbus, OH 43232
  • MAS Youth Center - 4615 Northtowne Blvd, Columbus, OH. 43229
  • Turkish American Society of Ohio (TASO) - 2885 W Dublin Granville Rd, Columbus, OH 43235
  • Ahlul Bayt Society - 2580 W Dublin Granville Rd, Columbus, OH 43235
  • The First Congregational Church - 444 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215
  • MY Deah's Warehouse - 4004 Fondorf Dr. Columbus, OH 43228.  During Business Hours Only
  • Global Gifts & Thrift (NEW- 4730 Cemetery Rd. Hilliard, OH 43206.  During Business Hours Only

We are looking for more locations. If interested in helping us or have any other questions, please contact us at warehouse@myprojectusa.org.


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MY Project USA
3275 Sullivant Ave | Columbus, Ohio  43204
614-905-0977 | info@myprojectusa.org

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