Village helps to change the ‘homeless state of mind’

“We’re not a shelter in the traditional understanding of the word,” begins Jim Fineran, Executive Director of the Village of Hope. Even so, he has all the admiration in the world for the shelter organizations in our area such as Diakoni, Halo, Christian Shelter, and the Joseph House. “These other organizations provide emergency shelter for […]

Mitzi Perdue: Epoch Center improving students’ lives

Up until just about a year ago, Hebron fourth-grader Steven (not his real name) wouldn’t speak. He rarely talked at home and he almost never talked at school. He had no friends and was extremely withdrawn. Instead of participating in PE, he’d just sit it out. There were some reasons for this.  His father had […]

Salisbury Urban Ministries helps with an array of needs

Did your parents ever use the phrase, “In a pickle?” It has an old-timey ring to it, but it means being in a really difficult situation. Jane Anderson (not her real name) was recently in about as big a pickle as a human being can be in. She had become pregnant by a man her […]

Horizons demonstrates measurable successes

The summer slide! It sounds like a fun outdoors activity, like maybe a waterslide, or a slide in one of our local parks. But it’s not.  It’s something less pleasant, less fun, and that if not addressed, it’s something that can blight a young person’s life. The “summer slide” refers to the fact that during […]

Bay Area Center helping people cope with disabilities

Will you accept a challenge?  The challenge is for the moment imagining that you are Martha Guthrie. By the way, Miss Martha doesn’t actually exist. She’s a composite of several women served by the Bay Area Center for Independent Living. You’ll probably find the experience of momentarily being Miss Martha a sobering one because you’re […]

Big Brothers, Big Sisters symbolize Mentoring Month

Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? If so, you might wonder, “Why is there a need for such a month?” The answer is, having a named month helps raise awareness, not only of an important need, but also an important opportunity.  In the United States right now there are more than 9 […]

Life Crisis Center: Where pain is replaced with hope, healing

“Just so you know, I’ve been through these things and it is more than OK to tell.” These words were penciled on a 3-by-5 card in the childish scrawl of an 8-year-old. They’re directed to other children who come to the Life Crisis Center here in Salisbury. When you know the story behind them, you […]

Mitzi Perdue: Adib Sha’ar is a Syrian scholar who helps protect democracy

The civil war currently raging in Syria is 5,730 miles and seven time zones distant from Salisbury.  It’s hard to imagine that a civil war so many miles and so many time zones away is actually having an impact on our region. But nevertheless, it’s true. The Syrian civil war has meant four new residents […]

Mitzi Perdue: The surprising story of Dr. Khaled Hasan

If you were to pass Khaled Hasan walking on the campus at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore he’d probably look to you pretty much like any American you might encounter. Well, maybe he’s a little different because he is a tad more handsome than average.

Still, his clothes, his walk, even his expressions do not give away the fact that this man and his family have an extraordinary story to tell. They’re also a blessing to our area.

Professor Hasan is a rock star scientist and the research he’s engaged in has the potential, (even the likelihood), of drastically lowering the price we pay for blood pressure medications.

In the United States, the costs associated with high blood pressure are approaching $50 billion a year.

His research subject is the hormone leptin. Its impact includes not only cardiovascular disease but also cancer, and possibly, obesity. Finding substances that stimulate the body’s production of leptin can benefit people with cardiovascular disease, and finding substances that inhibit leptin may be helpful in the treatment of cancers.

On top of all this, leptin is “the hunger hormone.” Hasan’s research may eventually even help play a role in our nation-wide epidemic of obesity.

If Hasan’s research pans out, we’re talking about potentially saving countless lives and many billions of dollars. But even this isn’t the end of the story.

Hasan’s work in the UMES School of Pharmacy is likely to produce medications with fewer side effects. That’s because the target hormone, leptin, is something that we produce naturally in our own bodies.

His research is being accepted for the American Heart Association Meeting in September. That’s a tremendous feather in the cap for all of us who live on the Eastern Shore and particularly for UMES.

How does it happen that we have such an eminent researcher here among us?

The answer is that the civil war in Syria is touching our lives. Nearly a quarter-million Syrians have died as a result of the tragedy in Syria, and Hasan has seen many of his colleagues and friends tortured and killed.

His life was in danger and so were the lives of his wife and two sons. Fortunately for him — and for us as well — a U.S. organization, the Institute of International Education has a program to rescue scholars such as Hasan. (Full disclosure, your author is a volunteer for the IIE).

The IIE pays to locate scholars in safe locations in the United States, and other countries as well. The IIE knows that saving the lives of scholars means that two of the most important functions of civilization can be met: adding to our store of knowledge and teaching future students.

This is particularly true in the case of Dr. Hasan. Imagine the loss to mankind if research on improved medications for blood pressure, cancer, and obesity were lost because of the unspeakable tragedy going on in Syria.

Professor Hasan has only been in this country five months, but he and his family are grateful every day to live in safety and to contribute to their new country. They are enriching our lives by their presence.

His two sons are now part of the Somerset County public school system. His wife, Hanaa, a dentist, is hoping to have volunteer work, or a part time job of shadowing in dental surgery because of her experience for 18 years in her private clinic and health center. She’s also hoping to earn some additional money by tutoring people in Arabic* as she works on perfecting her English.

Professor Hasan is one of two IIE rescue scholars in our area. In the coming weeks, look for the story of Adib Sha’ar and his family. Professor Sha’ar is currently teaching at Salisbury University, and his field is mathematics and cryptology.

As is the case with Hasan, Sha’ar also has a fascinating story to tell.