Somebody was always there for him. That’s why Muhammad Masood Alam has chosen to be there for his East York community.
“I was very inspired by my dad’s community work,” Alam said, about his life growing up in Pakistan. “He was always there for people, even in the middle of the night.”
In 2011 and 2012, Alam responded to a sense of fear for citizen safety in Thorncliffe Park. He initiated a partnership with Toronto Police Services, 53 Division, and the neighbourhood youth centre, to help families create a safer environment. His program is one of a long list of initiatives that has earned Alam the 2015 Agnes Macphail Award. The award is given each year to an East York resident, who has made outstanding contributions in volunteer work to the community.
Born in Pakistan, Alam decided after living abroad for many years, to move his family from Dubai to Canada in 2004. He wanted to give his three children the opportunity to be active community members.
“Canada is the best place to live,” Alam said.
Alam is an information technology expert and since 2009 has worked as a program administrator for the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office. But he has also contributed to his community by raising awareness about gang violence, street and high-rise safety and Internet bullying, among many issues.
“I’m not doing anything (to win) any award,” he said. “It’s my job.”
His nominator, Nadine Hare, gathered letters of support and endorsement.
“Masood is dedicated and continues to work shoulder to shoulder with our policing services,” she said.
In 2012, Alam’s Thorncliffe Park safety initiative, called “rabita,” an Arabic word for “bond,” also earned him the Mayor of Toronto’s Community Safety Award.
Alam strongly believes that improving a community as a whole starts from home.
“I involve my kids to do volunteer work with me. My whole family was involved with the rabita program,” he said. “(My wife Syeda Saima) never stopped me where I was going, even if it was the middle of the night.”
Alam has also remained connected to his South-Asian community. He’s an active member of the Canadian Association of Pakistani Origin (CAPO) and has led fundraising to assist victims of tsunami, earthquake and flood disasters in South Asia. But it’s his adopted home that receives his greatest attention, despite occasional skepticism.
“I was told by many community members, ‘Alam this is not your job. Why would anyone listen to you?’”
On Tuesday, March 24, at 7 p.m., Muhammad Masood Alam’s fellow citizens will honour his volunteer spirit as he receives the 2015 Agnes Macphail Award at East York Civic Centre.