The Surayya Anne Foundation project started over a conversation at a kitchen table. A group of women who were involved in many projects in the Tulsa Muslim community were discussing various needs from their perspective in the growing community. The discussion opened with the specific needs of female Muslim inmates that were re-entering the community after incarceration. However, after a short time, it became clear that there were many women, facing various degrees of difficulty due to life transitions, that needed help.
One month after this first conversation, the same group of women gathered for a brainstorm session to come up with ideas about how to meet the needs of the Tulsa female Muslim community. It was at this meeting that the group was introduced to the works of a woman from Turkey who was the spiritual driving force behind the womens’ programs for a foundation in Istanbul: Surayya Anne, or Mother Surayya. It was her spirit, drive, dedication to the needy, and compassion for all human beings that became the example of things that could be done in Tulsa with a lot of hard work and dedication.
It was one month later, in October 2007, that the foundation took form and a list of priorities was developed. That same month the 501(c)(3) status was applied for and by January 2008 the foundation was well on its way. It was decided at inception that the foundation would focus on Muslim women and children who were homeless, faced chronic or long-term illnesses, faced separation from families and spouses for whatever reason, and were returning to society from incarceration.
In 2009, the Surayya Anne Foundation opened its first “shelter” apartment. Over the years, apartments have been added as needed and today there are eight apartments providing 12 bedrooms and housing up to 24 clients at one time, used to meet the needs of women and children in the Tulsa community. Also, the foundation has seen continuous growth in the number and scope of programs. It is their sincere hope that they will be able to expand and continue the good work that has been established in the coming years.
The foundation has always had a priority to the Muslim community due to the fact that they had a clientele that had many special considerations including diet and daily life, however, it was always understood that anyone; regardless of race, religion, or creed; would be considered for their services. The foundation has proudly been able to maintain this standard to this day, and for that reason it has never been designated as a religious organization: it is a humanitarian organization.