Helping Handzz

Nadine-Daoud

Nadine Daoud likes to say her big idea started in her grandmother’s basement. But maybe its seed was planted long before.

Maybe it started years ago, in the car, as her father drove slowly past someone on a street corner holding up a beseeching sign.

“Roll down your window,” Daoud’s father would say, holding out a couple of dollars. “Hand this to him.”

“That was what started it for me,” remembers Daoud, a P3 from Dearborn, Mich. “I just knew I always had a passion to help people.”

Helping Handzz Service Project is the happy result of that.

The idea was born in, yes, Daoud’s grandmother’s basement, during Ramadan in 2017. Daoud was just about to begin classes in the MU Pharm.D. Program, having chosen Manchester because it was relatively close to home and because, she says, she felt “connected” there. 

“Ramadan (is) a time for us to put our aspect of religion into play,” Daoud says. “And during that time we would always be with my family, and we would always have really big dinners in my grandma’s basement. And I would just notice all the food that was getting left over and we were just throwing it away.

“I thought that defeated the purpose of what we were doing around that time – being conservative and bringing our religion into play. And we were just throwing away food when there are people that don’t have the opportunity to eat the way we did.”

And so the idea was born.

“I turned to my cousin and said ‘We should pack this up and take this to someone who needs it,’” Daoud recalls. “And she said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”

It was the same generous impulse Daoud had seen in her dad as a little girl, and one thing led to another. Daoud posted an online invitation for others to donate, and that got such a huge response that Daoud decided to expand on the idea.

“We were providing hundreds of meals a night, just food that was gonna get forgotten about in the back of fridges and just thrown away in general,” she says. “So I was like, all right, this cannot stop now. And we just continued it over the years and I made it more official with a page and a name and more titles for people so we can stay organized and safe ...”

Which led to drives to collect not just food but clothing, hygiene product, tents, blankets and, as Daoud says, “love in general” for the misfortunate in the Detroit area.

“We gave them a connection with us; they looked forward to seeing us every night,” Daoud says. “We didn’t make them feel like they were in need of help; we really made them feel like they were family.”

And it was all quite serendipitous, given that Daoud was about to begin classes at Manchester, where the Pharmacy Programs sponsor a Day of Service every semester in which classes are suspended and students participate in a variety of service projects.

It’s the Pharmacy Programs’ contribution to Manchester’s long-standing commitment to community service – of which Daoud was not aware but into which Helping Handzz fits perfectly.

“When I interviewed at Manchester ... I knew the program was new, but I just felt like a connection when I went there,” Daoud recalls. “I just felt like all the teachers were so interested and involved, and ... everything was up to date and technology was there; I just felt like they were up-to-date on everything. And all the students were so nice and involved, and the upperclassmen were there to help.

“I didn’t really see the whole community service side of things. But that was always instilled in me since I was little.”

To the benefit of many now.