During a tour on the first day of Doors Open, Cherrie Hanson (second from the left) MMWC special projects manager, walks visitors through the hallway of the Islamic Resource Center.

The Islamic Resource Center (IRC) joined 133 other locations in Milwaukee for Doors Open on Oct 23 and 24. A library and cultural landmark, the IRC is open to the public Monday thru Friday from 10 am – 6 pm, but for Doors Open they amplified the experience with educational exhibitions, artifacts and interactive activities. 

Aiming for a family friendly, neighborly visit that was more than just a walk through, the team gave people a reason to spend quality time at the center.  Kids were offered Islamic related crafts and a kid-sized mosque to experience. Women had the chance to try on a hijab and keep the scarf as a memento. Mona from MH Trendz delighted many of the guests with her elegant henna designs. A Mediterranean feast of hummus, falafel, cheese bread and baklawa with tea and refreshments was served throughout the day.

The Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition (MMWC) runs the IRC which is an Islamic library and cultural resource center. The building is a hub for many programs and projects. Over the two day weekend, the MMWC team, Executive Director Janan Najeeb and MMWC board of directors gave tours, addressed curiosities and shared information about the nearly 30 year old organization. 

Nancy Torphy became a volunteer for Doors Open after retiring as a librarian. A captain for eight locations on the south side of Milwaukee including the IRC, she shared her first impression of the IRC and meeting the women who worked there. 

“It’s very clear when you walk through the door, it’s a very welcoming place. Throughout my career, I hadn’t met many Muslims in the libraries where I worked but when I came here, I was very impressed with the variety of resources, the educational facet and children’s programming. It helps people at so many levels.”

For the MMWC team, it was great to see that the pre-COVID attendance had returned. The photos tell the story of the engaging day. Connections were made and biases evaporated. Saturday was busy with nearly 100 visitors who learned about Islam, the outreach and advocacy work of MMWC. Many expressed an interest in returning for the programs knowing they were always welcome to visit again.