It was a day for celebration for the members of Muslim Youth of Santa Clarita (MYSC), who gathered at Valencia Meadows Park on Sunday to commemorate their second anniversary.
MYSC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating Muslim youth about their faith, developing professional skills and opening dialogues and interaction with members of other faiths.
While children played games and enjoyed balloon art, the adult members of the group joined to discuss the successes of the previous year and to put forth ideas for events and ways to improve the organization in the next year.
Walid Metwaly, who founded MYSC, said some of the successes from the past year included creating the American Muslim Orators program, the first Muslim Toastmasters program in Los Angeles, and forming a partnership with Real Life Church. Looking forward, Metwaly said the organization is working to create an automotive education program and to organize a field trip to Amazon to help educate their children about software development.
Metwaly said he would also like MYSC to become more involved in community service projects in the future to both help improve Santa Clarita and to help break down the negative stereotypes that may exist in the community about Muslims.
“This anniversary means a lot and we had our doubts because it’s very hard to get people together and volunteer work is a challenge when you have limited resources,” Metwaly said. “It surprised us how many people wanted to be involved. I can see our kids growing up with this organization and I’m so proud to see how far we have come.”
Sam Eldein, head of MYSC’s education committee, said he is proud the organization had survived and not only not lost any members but also gained new ones. He added that at the beginning it was hard to tell if the organization was making an impact, but watching the children two years later, he is able to see the progress.
“The most important thing about MYSC is that it brings diversity to Santa Clarita,” Eldein said. “There are a few Muslim organizations and mosques in the community and it might scare non-Muslim people to see us joining a religious organization. We believe in the teachings of Islam, but we also welcome everyone. My kids have friends who are Catholic and when they have sleepovers they pray with us and we pray with them. I want kids to grow up understanding that religions are languages, and that while we may have different native languages, God speaks them all.”
Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Smyth attended the picnic to show his support for Santa Clarita’s Muslim community and also spoke to the members. Smyth said he has seen many organizations fall victim to the second-year “sophomore slump,” but MYSC’s ability to keep its members active and grow is a big accomplishment that shows the health of not only organization but also the Muslim community.
“Santa Clarita is certainly much more diverse than when I was growing up here, which makes us a better place, and the more we can integrate our community the stronger we become,” Smyth said. “We’re all people and we don’t need any divisions based on your religion or how you dress. Supporting organizations like MYSC are a great way to break down those barriers within our community. MYSC is just one example of people volunteering to serve the community and organizations like this are what makes Santa Clarita one of the best cities in the nation.”