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Muslim Educational Trust to wrap up construction this summer

$1 million needed to finish construction


FILE PHOTO - Wajdi Said tours the new Muslim Educational Trust school and community center on Scholls Ferry Road in 2014. The center should be completed by August, with students starting classes there this fall.It has taken years, but come this fall, the students at the Muslim Educational Trust should finally be able to settle in at their new school on Scholls Ferry Road.

In 2012, MET — a Tigard nonprofit that works to promote understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims — broke ground on a massive new school and community center.

The organization has been located on Scholls Ferry Road for close to two decades, quietly tucked into small portable buildings not visible from the road. But the $9 million building is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable sights in the area. Standing two stories tall, the ornate designs and large domed roof are an unexpected sight on a road composed almost entirely of business parks and strip malls.

When finished, the 34,000-square-foot building — located at 10330 S.W. Scholls Ferry Road in Tigard — will include a new home for its K-12 school, as well as a prayer hall, indoor swimming pool, fitness center, museum and coffee shop, said Rania Ayoub, a spokesman for MET.

Check it out

Who: Muslim Educational Trust

What: Met 2015 annual fundraising dinner

Where: Portland State University, Peter Stott Center, 930 S.W. Hall St., Portland

When: 5 p.m., Saturday, April 11

How much: $40 per ticket. Tickets are available online at metpdx.org, or calling 503-579-6621

“Everyone is really excited,” Ayoub said. “Especially the kids."

For the past two years, students have attended classes across Scholls Ferry Road in Beaverton, renting space in a retail park less than a mile from the construction.

Ayoub said that the new building should be open by August, with students moving in just in time for the start of the school year this fall.

"We want to have a little time to get it furnished and all that before the kids arrive," she said.

The school currently has an enrollment of about 160 students, while the new school will have enough space to house more than twice that. Despite its new, grander proportions, Ayoub said that the school will start small.

“We don’t want to get 350 kids all at once,” she said. “We want to work our way up gradually.”

Risky gamble

SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Muslim Educational Trust has been working to build a new community center and school on Scholls Ferry Road for years. The building is finally nearing completion, though the organization needs about $1 million to finish the work

The center has been a long time coming. Funded entirely by donations from the local community, it has taken MET more than a decade to raise the money it needs to build its new home.

MET broke ground on the building long before fundraising was complete. In 2013, the group had raised less than half of the $9 million it needed to complete the project.

At the time, MET officials said that it needed to break ground in order to rekindle interest in the project.

“People have given money, but they said ‘We donate and donate and don’t see anything happening,’” Ayoub told The Times in 2013. “To get people more excited, they need to see action happening. When we break ground, we mobilize people more.”

That gamble paid off. The organization raised enough funds to complete the community center and school, and is only $1 million short of finishing work on the planned swimming pool and workout area.

The two amenities may seem unnecessary, but they will play an important role in the Muslim community, Ayoub said. Many Muslims don’t feel comfortable using public swimming pools or working out at gyms with mixed genders, she said.

“We can live without them for a little bit, but we would love to have everything done at once,” said Ayoub.

The center is holding a fundraiser on Saturday, April 11, where it hopes to raise about $400,000 for the community center.

“After that, we’ll keep trying to raise money until it’s finished,” she said.

The fundraiser is part of the school’s annual cultural night, Ayoub said, and will feature performances by the school children, as well as an address from Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and keynote speaker Abdalla Idris, the secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America Canada.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Renderings show what the new Muslim Educational Trust community center will look like, complete with K-12 school, a museum and swimming pool.

Community building

Along with its school, MET’s mission is to educate both Muslims and non-Muslims about their faith, and bring the two communities together through talks and community events. Ayoub said that work will be expanded in the new community center.

“We want to add more outreach and interfaith work once the building is up,” Ayoub said.

The community center will be open to anyone, no matter their religion, Ayoub said.

“People will be welcome to have events there. It will be a great community building place,” she said.

For months, MET has been offering tours of the construction site, giving neighbors and interested parties the chance to see the new community center up close.

“The construction tours have been attracting more and more people every month,” Ayoub said. “Everyone wants to see what it will look like. We have even had people who took the tour months ago come back because it is changing so much and so quickly. They all want to see the progress.”

The next tour is scheduled for April 26.

For more information about the community center or to make a donation, visit MET's website.


By Geoff Pursinger
Reporter
503-546-0744
email: gpursinger@commnewspapers.com
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