Peace Islands Institute donates platefuls of generosity

Peace Islands Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, donates meat to Toni's Kitchen in Montclair on Sept. 27. Pictured from left are: Ann Mernin, Director of Toni’s Kitchen, Montclair; Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin; Lolita Cruz, Chief of Staff, Assembly Giblin; Ercan Tozan, Executive Director Peace Island Institute; Savan Metin, Program Analyst Embrace Relief  Lindsey Kelleher/NorthJersey.com
Peace Islands Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, donates meat to Toni's Kitchen in Montclair on Sept. 27. Pictured from left are: Ann Mernin, Director of Toni’s Kitchen, Montclair; Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin; Lolita Cruz, Chief of Staff, Assembly Giblin; Ercan Tozan, Executive Director Peace Island Institute; Savan Metin, Program Analyst Embrace Relief Lindsey Kelleher/NorthJersey.com


Date posted: October 21, 2017

Lindsey Kelleher

When volunteers at Toni’s Kitchen get together, it’s all about fostering friendships with one another while cooking for people who to get day-to-day meals.

On a Thursday morning this October, about a dozen volunteers did just that as they made 150 stuffed peppers for people in need, including low-income families and senior citizens.

The peppers were stuffed with meat the kitchen receives every year as part of an annual holiday tradition in the Muslim religion from the Peace Islands Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Founded by Turkish-Americans of North Jersey, the institute aims to promote peace and understanding among members of different religions.

“It’s a beautiful distribution of meat, and it’s high-quality protein,” said Anne Mernin, executive director at Toni’s Kitchen.

Peace Islands Institute has a New Jersey branch in Hasbrouck Heights and other branches in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The institute first reached out to Toni’s Kitchen about five years ago, offering to donate the meat. The institute also donates meat to other food banks and pantries in North Jersey such as St. Peter’s Haven in Clifton.

Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin, a Montclair resident whose legislative district includes Montclair, Clifton, East Orange and Orange, accompanied Peace Islands Institute Program Director Mel Turk on Sept. 27 to donate meat to Toni’s Kitchen and St. Peter’s Haven.

In a statement, Giblin said, “The extreme generosity of the Peace Islands Institute during the observance of Eid al Adha demonstrates great community spirit and willingness to help families in need.”

Kevin Donahue, executive director at St. Peter’s Haven, said, “We like to serve meat as part of the package we serve people. The meat is an important part of the healthy diet.”

The meat is donated as part of the annual Eid al-Adha/Kurban Bayrami celebration, which is the Festival of Sacrifice in the Muslim religion. Eid al-Adha commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s command, and marks the end of Muslims’ annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

As part of the celebration, an animal — usually, but not always, a sheep — is slaughtered and the meat is given to family members and people in need.

“We celebrate with family and poor people in the neighborhood,” said Levent Koc, former executive director of the Peace Islands Institute. “It’s a time to stop and think about your neighbors and your relatives.”

Donating the meat is done not only to help those in the community who are less fortunate but also as a way to bridge cultural and religious differences between Muslims and non-Muslims.

“We were so impressed with the story behind the donation,” said Mernin.

Peace Islands Institute was created by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who is exiled from Turkey and resides in Pennsylvania. He is the founder of the Hizmet movement, an organization focused on human values.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds Gulen and his followers accountable for a 2016 insurrection in which about 300 people were killed when portions of the military staged a coup.

Koc noted that members of the Turkish community are inspired by Gulen’s ideas, but added that a main focus of the Peace Islands Institute is to promote understanding, respect, acceptance and diversity among residents.

“When we help, we cannot discriminate. We try to help all people,” Koc said.

Peace Islands Institute Executive Director Ercan Tozan said he reaches out to churches and synagogues about projects and community-based activities the institutions can do together.

Tozan said Peace Islands Institute has organized many events since the group was founded in 2003, originally as the Interfaith Dialogue Center, and continues to do so today.

“We’re still trying to reach out. I’ve knocked on doors at churches and synagogues and have met with new reverends and pastors,” Tozan said.

Annual Thanksgiving dinners; Ramadan dinners; Abraham Table Discussion programs, in which leaders from different religions discuss a topic from their religions’ standpoints; and “friendship gatherings,” which offer community activities after Islamic services, are among community activities and events Peace Islands Institute has initiated.

Peace Islands Institute also has more than 100 volunteers who help out in places such as food banks.

It is organizing an essay contest for middle and high school students.

“Basically, all religions promote peace and love,” Tozan said. “No matter what, you have to bring people together to get to know each other.”

As for feeding people with the donated meat, volunteers from Toni’s Kitchen enjoyed both cooking it and working with one another to help others.

“It’s great helping the community,” said Maria Rios, a volunteer at Toni’s Kitchen.

“I’m having a great experience here,” noted Rios as she waited for the meat to finish cooking so it could be added into the peppers along with carrots and seasonings.

Source: NorthJersey.Com , October 17, 2017


Related News

Kimse Yok Mu extends helping hand to orphans in eastern Turkey

Charity organization Kimse Yok Mu continues its campaign in the holy month of Ramadan. Volunteers from the KYM went to the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on Tuesday and delivered aid boxes economically disadvantaged citizens.

Governor’s office rejects Kimse Yok Mu’s application for aid campaign

The İstanbul Governor’s Office has rejected an application by the Kimse Yok Mu charity to conduct an aid campaign to help the families of victims killed in terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacks.

Texas Agency Finds No Wrongdoing by Harmony Public Schools

Texas education officials have dismissed a complaint against the state’s largest charter school network after determining two major charges leveled against it by the Turkish government were baseless. “The flagrant lies spread by these foreign agents are unconscionable,” said Robert Schulman, a lawyer representing Harmony Public Schools.

First Lego League qualifier at Brooklyn Amity School

Brooklyn Amity School became a site where students dealt with all kinds of animals, including alligators, frogs, reindeer, sharks, cows, pandas, bees, and seals. As a host of the First Lego League qualifier competition, 11 different schools came to Amity School. This year, the FLL’s concept was “Animal Allies,” which allowed students to think and act like scientists and engineers.

Dialogue and Friendship Dinner Unites Multi-Cultural, Faith Groups

Against the backdrop of the San Antonio skyline, members of various religious and cultural groups from every corner of the city broke bread and shared a thoughtful discussion during the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest‘s 11th Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner.

Turkish dinner in Erie brings together flavors, cultures

She was telling me about the event and I was about to explain that she needed to send something in writing and we’d be happy to put it in the appropriate calendars of events. Then she caught my ear: Turkish cooking class … at a Presbyterian church … as a fundraiser for Puerto Rico? Wait, wait, wait, wait.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

‘Parallel state’ and ‘theft of national will’

Fethullah Gülen’s Statement on Notre-Dame Cathedral Fire

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right

Disabled teacher, husband removed from job as brothers under arrest

Turkey: Time the world intervened

Local, foreign participants debate Turkish democracy at Abant platform

Today is another Human Rights Day, but atrocities persist | Opinion

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News