Members of Masjid Al-Islam, the eyes and ears of the George-Greenwood street block, are celebrating an anniversary.
Twenty years ago, eight men and women established the mosque as a place for Muslims in Greater New Haven to come together and worship.
That core group has grown to more than 300, and since 1995 their permanent home at 624 George St. across from the Hospital of Saint Raphael has helped stabilize an area that 12 years ago had open drug dealing on the streets.
Mosque members fought back, along with the hospital and other neighbors, to form a block watch that is still active. By also keeping on top of blighted properties and encouraging fellow worshipers to move to the area, they made a difference.
"They have been a good neighbor to have here. It's been a great collaborative effort, partnership," said Martha Judd, director of community and governmental relations at St. Raphael's.
By being a seven-day-a-week presence on George Street, the mosque has proved to be a positive influence, Judd said.
This weekend, members of Masjid Al-Islam are holding a fund-raiser and family get-together in celebration of two decades of community service, with a talk by the founding imam and Muslim scholar, Zaid Shakir. (MORE)