Meet Omar and Eric. Omar Khan is a recent Carleton graduate (BEng/18) and advisory product manager at IBM Business Analytics. Eric Tibbetts is a Carleton Bachelor of Arts student studying sociology and psychology and current vice-president, external of the Carleton University Muslim Students’ Association (CU-MSA).
During his time at Carleton, Omar was an active member of the CU-MSA and worked closely with Eric. Now, several years after Omar’s graduation, the two have crossed paths again—this time, as part of an external volunteer opportunity.
The United Muslim Organizations Ottawa-Gatineau (UMO-OG) is a collective of Ottawa- and Gatineau-based Muslim associations and community groups, including the Assunah Muslims Association, the Ottawa Muslim Association and the Jami Omar Mosque. Together, the organizations in the UMO-OG launched the COVID-19 Relief Project, which aims to provide relief and support services to individuals from all communities, cultures and faiths.
Given their propensity to help others and give back, Omar and Eric were both quick to get involved with the UMO-OG COVID-19 Relief Project as volunteers.
“As the UMO-OG COVID-19 Relief Project is fully volunteer-run, it depends on the kindness of the community; it depends on everyday people stepping up to make a difference. We have more than 300 volunteers across Ottawa-Gatineau who have helped launch a coordinated and united campaign to support the most vulnerable members of our community that have been affected by the COVID-19 Crisis,” Omar explains.
Eric, who is involved with the project through the CU-MSA, adds: “CU-MSA is a partner organization that is helping to amplify UMO-OG’s efforts. We do this through marketing support, outreach to engage new volunteers and fundraising. I’m proud to say that many current and previous CU-MSA members are volunteering and using their unique skills to support different areas of the project.”
Through collective and collaborative effort, Omar, Eric and many other UMO-OG volunteers have made an undeniable impact in the Ottawa-Gatineau community—and they’re just getting started.
“So far, we have provided counselling services to individuals in need, distributed food and hygiene packs to 2679 families and donated 8,000 gloves to the Ottawa Hospital,” Omar shares. “And we have many requests for assistance that we will continue to address.”
Eric continues: “We hope that our efforts are making a positive difference in our community by providing support and stability in the lives of those most impacted by COVID-19. We seek to ease the burden placed on those who find this time particularly challenging—such as the elderly, sick, immunocompromised, self-quarantined or low-income—by providing a helping hand.”
When asked why it’s important to him to be involved with this initiative, Eric’s answer was simple and noble.
“The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: ‘A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbor is hungry.’ In this unprecedented time, it has become even more crucial for us to take care of our neighbours and our community.”
Omar agrees, adding that he and many of the other volunteers hope to positively influence others to step up.
“I, along with Eric and other members of the CU-MSA, have gotten involved with hopes to inspire more people to join the cause and help in COVID relief efforts taking place across the community and the country.
“It’s been encouraging to see that others are being inspired to do good. There has been overwhelming support coming from the community—from individuals and organizations alike. Almost daily, we get messages from people asking how they can volunteer, donate and otherwise help out. Local businesses and other organizations have reached out looking to donate their products to help the cause. United Way, for example, donated masks and hand sanitizer to keep our volunteers well protected.”
For both Omar and Eric, being able to help those in need during this difficult time has been a truly rewarding experience. “We are able to be there for each other as a community,” they say. “We are all in this together, and we will get through it together.”
Anyone requiring assistance during this difficult time can fill out the UMO-OG relief form bit.ly/covid-aid.
If you’d like to contribute to the good being done by UMO-OG, you can donate at bit.ly/covid-donations.
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