Muslim community honors sheriff, cardiologist

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 August 2014 at 12:00 am

Mosque in Medina part of effort for humanitarian work

Photos by Tom Rivers- Sheriff Scott Hess was given a certificate of appreciation for his “outstanding public service” for 10 years as sheriff.

Dr. Asif Shah, a cardiologist for Medina Memorial Hospital, addresses the World Sufi Foundation on Saturday evening at its mosque on West Avenue in Medina. Shah was recognized for providing cardiology services in the community.

MEDINA – The Muslim community honored Sheriff Scott Hess and Dr. Asif Shah, a cardiologist at Medina Memorial Hospital, for their service to the community on Saturday.

The World Sufi Foundation held a big celebration after Ramadan, when Muslims go 30 days without eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset. The community had a big feast on Saturday and wanted to recognize Hess and Shah.

Hess has been sheriff for about 10 years following a career with the Albion Police Department. Bilal Huzair, a member of the mosque, thanked Hess for his “outstanding public service.”

“He doesn’t just see black and white,” Huzair said. “He sees human beings.”

Hess proved a friend to the Muslim community in 2010 when shots were fired at their mosque on Fuller Road in Waterport. The Sheriff’s Department investigated the case and arrested five teen-agers.

Shah joined Medina Memorial Hospital about a year ago and has been providing cardiology services in Medina and also at Orleans Community Health’s urgent care site in Albion. He also has partnered with the World Sufi Foundation for some humanitarian work in the community, Huzair said.

Dolores Horvath, CEO of Medina Memorial, presented Shah with a certificate of appreciation for his work in the community.

Medina Mayor Andrew Meier was invited to the mosque for a celebration after Ramadan. Meier thanked the Muslim community for working to upgrade the building, a former mansion next to the Medina Historical Society, and also for their expanded community outreach efforts.

Leaders of the mosque also invited Medina Mayor Andrew Meier to the celebration Saturday. Huzair said Meier “is so helpful to everyone who knows him.”

Meier thanked the members of the mosque for working to restore the former mansion on West Avenue. The site had fallen into disrepair after being carved up for apartments.

Edmund Pitts built the mansion. He has the distinction of serving as a leader of both the Assembly and Senate.

The mosque on West Avenue is a former mansion and also a former Masonic Lodge.

The Masonic Lodge acquired the building in the 1920s and put on an addition that included the large meeting room and a fellowship hall in the basement. The Masons met in the building until the 1980s.

“Thank you for improving the building that threatened to become a white elephant,” Meier said.

He praised the mosque for also working to better the community through humanitarian efforts, including a food giveaway the first and third Saturdays from Huzair’s restaurant, the Old Mill Run Restaurant, near the corner of routes 31A and 63.

Harris Lieberman, left, and Metin Shahin greet each other in the mosque, where members have been working three years to improve the building, including bringing back the tin ceilings and hardwood floors in the upstairs.

The World Sufi Foundation also for nearly 20 years has run the Project Life program, which brings war orphans to rural Orleans County for a summer of respite, fun and education. Several other community members, including Christian churches, help with that program.

Project Life now has an office in Medina at the mosque next to the Ridgeway Town Hall. Huzair said the group is committed to international work, but also wants to step up its efforts in the local community.

It continues to have its mosque on Fuller Road in Waterport. That site is more of a retreat, while the Medina site is its focus for spiritual and community work.

“Medina is a wonderful city,” Huzair said. “We needed something more visible. This building is open to everyone. We welcome everybody who has a passion to do work for humanity.”