A Minneapolis shelter for Muslim women

Sakinah Ali Mujahid, left, a military veteran and director of Sisters Need A Place, visits with Nadiyah Abdullah at SNAP’s new transitional home for Muslim women Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 in north Minneapolis. MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson.

As a man, I’m not frequently invited to visit a shelter for women, so it was a privilege to tour the Sisters Need A Place (SNAP) facility in north Minneapolis recently. SNAP has a renovated duplex that offers women support and in some cases, temporary housing. Tonight, I’ll profile the work of the director, Sakinah Ali Mujahid, in a new Minnesota Sounds and Voices report today as part of All Things Considered.

The shelter and its counseling services are available to all women but the nearly 15-year-old SNAP caters to women who are Muslim.  Many of its referrals come from Twin Cities area mosques.  Sisters Need A Place is a typical small 501 (c)(3) non-profit with a small staff of three and a lean budget.  Even so, in the past few years it has nearly doubled the number of women it serves from 35 to 60.  The shelter offers temporary shelter for only a handful of women escaping abuse.  Many other clients are helped through home visits or telephone counseling for a range of concerns from raising kids, to finding jobs, to housing problems.

I learned about Sakinah by way of a news release from the Minnesota Humanities Commission.  She was one of 25 Minnesota veterans honored at a dinner and awards ceremony a few weeks back for their community service. Sakinah, 38, served a combined 13 years in the Army and Army Reserve at the 88th Regional Support Command at Fort Snelling. She calls her military service a great experience for many reasons including that it taught her how to organize her life.

Organizational skills are a big deal in Sakinah’s life because she’s raising five children, holding down a job as a housing advocate for Beacon Interfaith’s Families Moving Forward and directing SNAP.