Muslim Educational Trust celebrates new community center on Scholls Ferry Road
Fundraising still underway to finish construction on community center.
Nadira Najieb was all smiles as she took the stage on Friday.
This is a ray of hope, she told the crowd of more than 700. Its a dream. Its a prayer manifested.
After nearly two years of construction, the new Muslim Educational Trust school and community center on Scholls Ferry Road was opened to the public last week, with a grand opening on Friday that included more than 30 speeches from elected officials, religious leaders and community members.
Part mosque, part school, part community center and part museum, the new building is everything that MET officials have been waiting for, said Najieb, a retired principal at METs K-12 school.
My heart is overflowing, said Najieb. I remember this school when it was a classroom in a basement. For exercise, we didnt have a gym, wed stand at different corners and run the children around the block. Now, we have an Olympic-sized swimming pool. I am so thankful for this body because if I didnt have it itd be bouncing all over the walls. This is such a blessing.
For more than two decades, the Muslim Educational Trust has worked with local interfaith groups to better relations between the Islamic and non-Muslim communities. Since 2000, MET has operated a kindergarten through high school at the location.
The new 36,000-square-foot building, located at 10330 S.W. Scholls Ferry Road, is hard to miss with its colorful dome and elaborate architecture.
The community center is open to the public. Families can purchase a monthly membership for access to facilities, such as its art gallery, swimming pool, and commercial kitchen.
The new space also has plenty of room to grow. MET currently enrolls more than 150 students. Schools officials say that they will slowly expand, eventually taking in more than 200 students.
Najieb said that the $9.5 million community center wouldnt have been built without the financial support of the entire community, including local Muslims and non-Muslims.
This building represents our prayers, our hopes and our commitment, she said.
Tigard Mayor John L. Cook said that the community center will benefit all of Tigard and Beaverton.
"We appreciate everything youve done, he said. This great community center has been built for all of us.
The center is the culmination of years of fundraising and construction for MET. Since 2013, the school has been run out of rented space along Southwest Nimbus Road, a few blocks from the site. They moved into the new building in August.
Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle said that the two-story tall building represents more than just a new home for MET.
This accomplishment for our community is what America is all about, Doyle said. Trumpet that, people. This is what its all about. This truly is amazing.
The grand opening was so well attended, the schools new gymnasium was packed to capacity, spilling into the hallways. Cars stretched along Southwest Scholls Ferry Road, hoping for a spot in MET's crowded parking lot.
'A meaningful difference'
MET officials had been planning a community center for years, with limited success.
When construction crews broke ground on the site in 2013, the organization had less than half of the money it needed.
The hope, MET spokeswoman Rania Ayoub told The Times in 2013, was that seeing the building under construction would inspire more people to contribute to the cause.
To get people more excited, they need to see action happening, Ayoub said. When we break ground, we mobilize people more.
The gamble worked. The community center has largely wrapped up construction, though the school still has about $175,000 to raise for safety and security improvements. Najieb said MET hopes to install bulletproof screens around the building.
Its an unfortunate necessity, Najieb said, after religious extremists have carried out violent atrocities in the name of Islam.
But Najieb said those actions dont reflect her religion, nor the values of her community.
When we see different things on the news that arent positive, we know people who are, Najieb said. We know you and you know us.
After deadly shootings in California and attacks by the so-called Islamic State terrorist group in Paris, U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the country until officials could figure out what is going on.
Trumps call brought jeers from political leaders on both sides of the political aisle.
So many of us have worked hard, night and day, MET co-founder and president Wajdi Said told the crowd. We shouldnt let an ignorant person like Donald Trump bother us. We shouldnt let our rotten apples make us apologetic.
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, a democrat who represents Tigard and Beaverton in Oregons 1st Congressional District, said that METs work to bring communities together is vitally important.
Now more than ever our state and our country need the work that you do through the Muslim Educational Trust, Bonamici said. Your work in the interfaith community, your advocacy, your outreach and your efforts to educate the next generation of Muslim leaders all make a meaningful difference in our community.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales declared Friday Islamic Heritage Day in Portland in celebration of the work that Oregon Muslims have done in their communities. The Portland City Council will vote on a resolution this week denouncing Trump's plan.
Its not just us who wish to brush aside the reckless words and evil nonsense of hate speech, Hales told the crowd. Its not just us who feel this way, but also the people we represent. We are here on their behalf. Thousands are here in spirit with you.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT