The founding members established the Board of Trustees in January 2013 to serve as the organization’s governing body. The Board comprised seven members at inception, but was expanded to nine (five women and four men) in November 2013, and now has eight members and two teenagers serving ex-officio (non-voting) members to represent and advocate for the youth.
The Board incorporated the organization with the Secretary of the State of Connecticut as the “Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, Inc. (FVAMC or “the Center”) in January 2013. It also established bank accounts and a mailbox, and filed the lengthy application for a tax-exempt (non-profit 501(c)3) status with Internal Revenue Service in April, 2013. FVAMC received its tax-exempt, non-profit 501(c)3 status on July 30, 2014.
FVAMC became aware of the recent closing of Christ Episcopal Church – Avon located at 35 Harris Road, which closed its doors in December 2012 after over 160 years of operations. In February 2013, a couple of Board members attended a public meeting called by Bishop Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut to discuss the future of the church’s building on 35 Harris Road, Avon. At the meeting, FVAMC members expressed our desire to lease the facility as an interfaith center and Muslim place of worship for our community, citing the dire need for such a facility in the Farmington Valley. Their appeal was received sympathetically by attendees and the Diocese, who agreed to pursue further discussions with us.
THE EARLY DAYS
In the days that followed both the Diocese and FVAMC engaged – separately and collectively – in much discussion, soul searching, and negotiations. Given the significant financial and effort commitment that would be required to acquire and manage the facility, FVAMC held a fundraiser to assess the level of commitment from its members and collect seed funds to help it pursue the facility. The response was very positive, with over 150 people attending and $50,000 raised in donations and pledges. As a result, FVAMC and the Diocese continued with the negotiations throughout the Spring and Summer, which culminated in an agreement reached on September 7, 2013 to lease the facility at 35 Harris Road for one year and the promise to negotiate a permanent agreement on the facility.
While negotiations with the Diocese were underway and to keep the momentum, FVAMC remained very active in its outreach to the Muslim and non-Muslim community. Iftar dinners (when the daily fast is broken) were arranged on the four Saturdays of Ramadan (July/August 2013) with an open invitation to the public at a rented hall at Avon Congregational Church. The events were well attended with approximately 150 Muslim and non-Muslim attendees at each event. Each dinner was followed by Taraweeh congregational prayers. To celebrate the end of Ramadan, FVAMC held prayer services and a reception at the Lions Club – Unionville, which was very successful, further assuring the Board of the viability of its endeavor to establish this community. To carry on the momentum, a cookout was organized at the Lions Club in September to celebrate our agreement to partner with the Diocese and rent the former church building on 35 Harris Road, Avon.
FVAMC reached an agreement with the Diocese to purcahse the facilty in October 2014. Read the press release.
FVAMC moved into the facility on October 1, 2013. To prepare the facility for use, FVAMC performed necessary renovations and improvements, including: re-striping the parking lot, trimming overgrown trees and greenery around the building, painting a basketball court in the parking lot, renovating the rest rooms, installing shoes racks, and removing the molding wall-wall carpet in the basement.