Making Connections Is Essential to Masood
Making connections is essential to Masood. Whenever he can talk about what The Inn does and who The Inn serves, he jumps at the opportunity.
Masood Ahmed was introduced to The Children’s Inn at NIH in late 2019. He was starting to have conversations with his Leidos colleagues and Inn staff members about a variety of ways in which he could support our families. Then, March 2020 happened.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed almost all the ways The Inn had historically engaged with its volunteers and how its volunteers were allowed to support Inn families. For many of our volunteers during this time, the challenges and restrictions facing The Inn fueled further action to help. And Masood’s enthusiasm for all-things-Children’s-Inn was hard to beat!
In the spring of 2020, he began supporting the Feeding Families program with his good friend, colleague, and longtime Inn supporter Erika Killian. Masood and Erika would order pre-packaged dinners from Bethesda-area commercial kitchens and have the meals delivered directly to The Inn. Masood kept supporting from a distance for the better part of two years until he was finally allowed to enter The Inn’s doors for the first time in the spring of 2022.
“I think I am there at least twice a month now; once for the halal meat [deliveries] and once for doing a dinner,” he humbly admits.
I think I am there at least twice a month now; once for the halal meat [deliveries] and once for doing a dinner.”Masood Ahmed
During one of his early visits to The Inn, Masood recognized a particular dietary need he could help meet for Muslim families staying there. These families require that any meats they consume be halal. An Arabic word meaning ‘permissible’ in English, halal is mainly associated with Islamic dietary laws, especially meat processed and prepared in accordance with those requirements. As Masood is a practicing Muslim, he makes regular trips to his local halal meat store, Mahi Bazaar, for his family. He thought, “Why not triple the monthly order for Inn families?”
Nearly every month for the past year and a half, Masood and various family members have ordered eight to ten pounds of halal chicken, goat, lamb, and beef, which they personally deliver to The Inn. The size of their order depends on the number of Muslim families staying at The Inn and any special requests they make, often talking to Masood when he is there for monthly dinners with his Leidos team. Additionally, Mahi Bazaar is aware of who they are feeding through the Ahmed family’s orders.
“They ask where the families are from and what the families are facing,” Masood explains. “It’s not just about buying the meats from there, but there’s an awareness about The Inn.”
Making connections is essential to Masood. Whenever he can talk about what The Inn does and who The Inn serves, he jumps at the opportunity. As a patron of Barcelona Wine Bar and a member of Leidos’s Civilian Health team, a nearly 25-year corporate sponsor of The Inn, Masood recognized another opportunity for collaboration. For the past year, Leidos has served dinners to Inn families once a month exclusively through Barcelona. Masood explains that they provide various family dishes, from vegetarian options to chicken dishes to beef stews. All meats are halal, eliminating the question of what foods Inn Muslim families can and cannot consume. It’s streamlined, it’s plentiful, it’s delicious!
Reflecting on the importance of giving back, Masood shares that philanthropy was a concept he was introduced to at a young age. “The message from my mom and dad was that you’re given the money that belongs to somebody else,” Masood remembers. “You’re just a carrier. I think that part has passed on quite strongly, not just with me but with my siblings as well…After [Mom’s] death, we found out there were so many things she was doing [and supporting] but keeping it hidden. And she used to say that if your right hand is giving, your left hand shouldn’t even know about it. I wanted to carry on [her legacy], and there is no better place than The Children’s Inn. I have kids, and Mom had cancer, so [The Inn] resonates with me. I wanted to do a lot more. I wanted to understand where else I could help—not just time, not just money, but any other support…I was all in from there on.” Thank you to Masood Ahmed and his family, the Leidos team, the Barcelona Wine Bar team, and Mahi Bazaar. They say it takes a village to raise a family. Indeed, The Children’s Inn has a village of supporters that makes everything we do for our families possible.