Although it has been located in downtown since 2014, the Turlock Islamic Center is making new efforts to reach out to local Muslim families, and the community at large.
"People have to know who we are," said Islamic Center board member Sayed Bassam, "not just to educate local Muslims, but to help out the community."
Along with a new banner on the outside of the E. Main Street mosque, the Center has also been reaching out to its neighbors.
"We talked to the neighbors and said, 'Hey, we're here, don't be afraid,'" said Bassam.
Bassam said that he has personally experienced negative reactions when walking down the street wearing his long robes and prayer hat, and is hoping to create a more positive image of Muslims and the Islamic faith.
"I want to educate people and bring us together as a community," he said.
The Islamic Center is also involved in community service. During Ramadan, a month of fasting from dawn until sunset to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad in the Islamic faith, meals are served nightly at the Center. Members of the Center took the leftover food from each meal and gave it to the homeless who are often camped out at Denair Park, said Bassam.
Bassam is also looking into the Adopt a Highway project for the Center and hoping to begin interfaith discussion sessions.
All members of the community, Muslim or not, are welcome to the Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday for classes and at 1:30 p.m. Fridays for worship. Bassam encouraged those looking to learn more about the faith to drop by for a class, like one student from California State University, Stanislaus who comes on a regular basis to learn about Islam for a cultural project.
The Turlock Islamic Center is located at 735 E. Main St. For more information, call 620-8602.