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Monday, July 14, 2008

Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids to host flood relief forum for immigrants, minorities July 18

The Islamic Center of Center Rapids will host a Flood Relief Forum from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 18, at the center, located at 2999 First Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids. The focus of the forum is to help educate people about financial assistance for immigrant and minority victims of recent natural disasters and flooding.

For the many immigrants whose faith demands they shun the receiving or paying of interest, the traditional avenues of low-interest government loans to help rebuild what they lost in a natural disaster is not an option. While for many minorities, fear of the government or the process of filing for relief has kept many minorities from coming forward to claim their right to recovery funds.

Since the water receded leaving destruction in its path, many agencies have recognized the overwhelming need for recovery funding that falls outside the standard venues. A number of organizations have stepped forward to provide alternative sources in the form of no-interest loans and grants to help those who would not normally be eligible for assistance, or for those who have limits on what aid they can accept.

During the forum, the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids will help educate such minorities and others about what recovery help is available to them. Representatives of FEMA, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and local government and aid agencies have been invited to provide information and services to those who suffered loss of property, jobs and business resulting from the recent flooding. Additionally, volunteers will help victims fill out and submit any forms required to receive aid. Spanish and Arabic speakers will be available for those who require language interpretation.

Refreshments will be served, and the forum is free and open to the public, regardless of faith. For more information, contact Miriam Amer at 319-573-6617, or by e-mail at