MY Project USA in News

Zerqa Abid named Dispatch Media Group’s Everyday Hero for 2019

October 01, 2019

Suzzane Gold-Smith - Columbus Monthly Magazines

Founder of MY Project USA to serve immigrant Hilltop residents honored for service to the community

Zerqa Abid, founder of MY Project USA, was named Dispatch Media Group’s Everyday Hero for 2019 today in a ceremony held at COSI. The award comes with a $10,000 donation to the organization of Abid’s choosing, funded by the Columbus Foundation. Abid’s nonprofit employs Hilltop youth, many of them Somali immigrants, to help them improve their own lives through soccer and community service.


Four finalists for the award received in-kind gifts of advertising services worth $7,500 each from the Columbus Dispatch and its magazines, including Columbus Monthly. All of the finalists received family COSI memberships.

Meet the Everyday Heroes of 2019 - Zerqa Abid

September 01, 2019

Suzzane Gold-Smith | Dispatch Magazines

In 2017, seven people were killed in Wedgewood Village, a 684-unit low-income housing complex on the West Side, leading The Columbus Dispatch to call it “Columbus’ deadliest location.” In the wake of that violent season, commander Scott Hyland, who oversaw the Columbus Division of Police’s West Side patrol for five years before starting a new assignment this summer, began walking the streets of the low-rise complex himself. He hoped to develop relationships in a troubled and fearful community that is home to many Somali refugees and immigrants. But Hyland couldn’t seem to make headway until he met Zerqa Abid, the founder of an initiative to engage the complex’s young people in soccer, reading and other programs. 

Vigil held for victims of New Zealand Shooting at Ohio Statehouse

March 17, 2019

By Sarah Wynn - abc6 News

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Muslim and community leaders in Central Ohio gathered at the Ohio Statehouse on Sunday to pay their respects to the victims of the New Zealand shooting.

"We wanted to make sure that we gather, and we can create a space where we can work together," said event organizer Zerqa Abid.

People to Watch: Zerqa Abid

August 01, 2018

By Erica Thompson - Columbus Alive

The self-proclaimed “fighter mom” is transforming Wedgewood Village into a “role model community”

Zerqa Abid could hardly contain her excitement during a late-July interview at My Deah’s thrift shop, where she also runs her nonprofit, MY Project USA. She’d received word that Columbus City Council was funding a comprehensive soccer program for youth in Wedgewood Village, a low-income complex in the Hilltop area where seven homicides occurred in 2017. The support will allow Abid to hire coaches and assemble an advisory board of prominent officials in the city.

The Ohio Muslim groups standing up for their embattled community

September 19, 2018

By Dalia Hatuqa - Middle East Eye

COLUMBUS, United States - Wedgewood Village housing complex in Columbus, Ohio, has been dubbed a “hotbed” for crime. But thanks to the efforts of a local advocacy group, it will soon be home to a football league for its mainly immigrant youth.

The group My Project USA has devoted recent years to offering services to its residents, many of them Somali immigrants. Last month, it secured a grant from the Columbus City Council to create a football (soccer, in the local argot) league for the neighbourhood's youth by opening sports fields, hiring coaches and putting together an advisory board.

This is one of several steps Zerqa Abid, founder and executive director of My Project USA, is taking to aid Columbus Muslim, refugee and immigrant communities, many of which are targeted by human traffickers, gangs and drug dealers.

Columbus's Violent Crime Review Group expands to the Hilltop area, including Wedgewood

September 06, 2018

by Haley Nelson - abc6 News

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther's Office said Thursday that the Violent Crime Review Group would expand to the Hilltop neighborhood, including the Wedgewood area, starting this week.

The program started up in the Linden neighborhood in May.

"Every day, every night you hear gunshots," said Mike Davis who lives in the Hilltop.

The review includes the Wedgewood area too.

"I am surprised as to why it was not there in the beginning, but I think this will definitely help," said Zerqa Abid, a Greater Hilltop Area Commissioner and leader of MY Project USA. "One of the complaints we hear a lot from our community is that by the time that the agencies come and the service providers come, sometimes it is too late. "

Community activists start soccer league to combat crime in Wedgewood

August 22, 2018

By Cierra Johnson 10TV


In an area often considered a “hot bed” for crime, community activists are hoping the sport of soccer will serve as a catalyst for change in the Wedgewood community.

The group “My Project USA” has spent two years in the Wedgewood Village Apartment Complex working to offer services to thousands living in the community.

After opening food pantries and working to build connections with the Columbus Police Department, the organization is focusing on soccer to keep neighbor kids off the streets.

“Our goal is that we turn this community into the role model community for the city of Columbus,” community activist Zerqa Abid said.

After receiving $68,000 from Columbus City Council the project is one step closer to becoming a reality.

After 7 homicides in '17, residents at west Columbus apartment complex aim to end violence

May 25, 2018

By HALEY NELSON - abc6 News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- Zerqa Abid and a team of volunteers have been working to make the Wedgewood Apartments, what some called the deadliest in Columbus, safer.

"You have to admit there is an issue and you have to work on it," said Abid.

There were seven homicides at the complex in 2017: multiple double-murders and a home invasion. It is a complex Abid believes around 2,000 children live with their families. So far in 2018, there has not been a murder.

Community in Crisis: Can Wedgewood Village rebound from a violent 2017?

April 04, 2018

By Andy Downing - Columbus Alive

“We recognize law enforcement alone is not going to be successful in changing the tide on a lot of the problems,” Hyland said. “So we’ve also started to reach out to non-law-enforcement partners, whether it’s within city government or quasi-judicial groups like the [Greater] Hilltop Area Commission, or nonprofits such as Friends of the Hilltop and My Project USA. ... I’m most impressed with Zerqa [Abid of My Project USA] and some of the youth leaders who live in Wedgewood. Zerqa has really managed to rally people.”

Abid, seated in the West Side office of My Deah’s thrift shop on Sullivant Avenue, which also serves as My Project USA’s headquarters, possesses a warm smile and a soft-spoken manner that mask a bulldog tenacity. (Hyland said Abid “might have rubbed some people the wrong way with her persistence” in pushing Wedgewood-related issues in political circles, though he admires this quality, believing the neighborhood needs strong, dedicated advocates.)

Wedgewood Village first entered onto Abid’s radar in the summer of 2015 when My Project USA, a nonprofit charitable organization launched in March of that year, passed out free meals for families living at low-income Hilltop residences River Pointe Apartments and Wedgewood Village.

Wedgewood Village neighbors lace-up to support community

March 18, 2018

By Rob Wells - abc6 News

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Dozens of residents and friends of the Wedgewood Village Apartments marched along Sullivant Avenue in the Hilltop Sunday afternoon to promote solidarity.

Organizers said the march is in response to a petition asking the city to close the community down after high amounts of crime and suspected drug activity.

"Bear with us, we will make changes, and if you want to be part of this change, then please, no negativity," said Wedgewood Village resident Samira Mohamad.

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