Traveling for work is just part of the job for many professionals—pre-COVID, of course—and while our family and friends may miss us, life remains relatively unchanged while we’re away. Such is not the case for Ashraf Abdelwly, an M&A Integration Manager at Intel, and key resource for the Muslim Outreach and Volunteer Enterprise (MOVE) in Chandler, Arizona.
Ashraf worked alongside volunteers with MOVE to establish a pantry where families could receive food and household necessities once a month in the Chandler area. When the program began, MOVE served about 10-20 families every month. But, when a large number of Arabic-speaking refugees began to settle in the area, Ashraf—MOVE’s only native Arabic-speaking volunteer at the time—became invaluable. For Ashraf, communicating with the nearly 100+ Arab families in Chandler was easy. Without him, these families would otherwise certainly have struggled with a language barrier that could have proven difficult for them to overcome.
So it makes sense, then, that while Ashraf was away from Chandler for a brief while on a business trip prior to COVID-19, his absence was deeply felt. His colleagues told him that while he was away, the Arabic-speaking families who looked forward to communicating with him during pickups felt lost without him. It goes without saying that these families were overjoyed to see Ashraf back at MOVE upon his return, asking him all sorts of questions about where he was, relieved that he was back.
“That really touched me,” says Ashraf. “It touched me very much.”
Ashraf has worked at Intel for almost six years, overseeing elements of Intel’s dining and fitness programs, adding to his background in hospitality and project management—a background that enables him to organize a coordinated effort to provide basic needs to refugee families.
“Since volunteering with MOVE, it has brought me greater awareness of some of the issues that are right in my backyard,” says Ashraf. “It’s easy to become isolated in your own world, but this really makes me understand the needs of my community.”
Over the past two years, MOVE has made a number of major breakthroughs with the help of Ashraf, such as expanding their reach throughout the Valley, and becoming more efficient and user friendly. Recently, the team converted to a virtual platform that allows volunteers to easily track each family’s need for essential items, while creating a survey system that helps them better understand what people need most—a tool that helps them ensure they keep the right items in stock, saving the organization money and time through the proper allocation of resources.
While the pandemic has changed the way the program operates, it hasn’t affected the positive impact Ashraf and his team have on families in need. Instead of a monthly pickup of items, the program has switched to a weekly pickup, because many of the people they serve have lost a crucial source of income. Ashraf recognizes the impact he has now more than ever and constantly works to assist more people in need throughout his community.
“It gives a sense of privilege to be able to help people through their critical stages of life,” he says.
While families rely upon MOVE for help meeting their basic needs, Ashraf’s close relationships with many of these families is a testament to one need that often gets overlooked—the need for human connection.
As Ashraf—and all our Intel volunteers—continue to Do Wonderful, let’s work together to provide basic needs to our community by leveraging our skills, all the while fostering relationships that create real change.