Thanks to a GoFundMe page and other outside donations, the Islamic Society of Vermont (ISVT) is close to seeing their dream of a new mosque realized. As of Sept. 12, ISVT had raised $912,000, but they still need another $135,000 in order to purchase the former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints building on Swift Street in South Burlington. With an October deadline looming, time is running out, but the organization feels confident.
“Our closing date is Oct. 10 and our target is to get the required funding in place before the deadline,” said Azhar Karim, ISVT Board of Trustees secretary. “If all goes well and we reach our funding goal, then we will be able to buy the building and move to the new place any day after Oct. 10.”
When asked what the plan is if they don’t raise the money in time, Karim focuses on staying positive.
“At this point, ISVT feels very confident that we should be able to fill the remaining funding gap through donation or loan.” Karim said. “We hope that the residents of Vermont will continue their generous support toward the only Islam-ic Center in the state of Vermont.”
Today, there are approximately 4,000 Muslims living in Vermont and the population is growing. The active members of ISVT need more space than their current headquarters in Colchester can provide. Aside from a larger prayer space, the new building would also offer classrooms for their weekend Islamic school, as well as an opportunity for recreational activities, including plans to build a playground on the green.
So far, 253 people have donated to the GoFundMe cause. Among the supporters are their would-be next-door neighbors at Temple Sinai. When the Shelburne News spoke with Rabbi Edelson in June, he was enthusiastic over the possibility of the Muslim and Jewish communities embracing a collaborative existence.
“We want to do joint events with them. We want to celebrate our respective holidays, here and there, together as much as we can, and we want to work together on common issues that we face,” Edelson said.
This rare coming-together of religion has inspired community members to help out. A quick scroll through the ISVT do-nor list shows various donations in the amount of $36, a lucky number in Jewish culture. Many South Burlington resi-dents also contributed, writing messages welcoming ISVT to the neighborhood. Karim feels overwhelmed by the out-pouring of well wishes.
“ISVT would like to thank each and every resident of South Burlington and surrounding cities for their warm and generous support to this project,” he says. “We truly appreciate it.”
To donate to ISVT for the new mosque, go to www.gofundme.com/f/appeal-for-donation-buying-a-church-to-mosque.