Habib Joudeh – Vice President and Founder of the Arab AmericanAssociation of New York, Board Member and Founder of the FifthAvenue Business Improvement District (BID), Member of CommunityBoard 10, Board Member of St. Nicholas Home

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Although the organization was startedbefore the terror attacks of September 11, it was the events ofthat day that kicked the organization into high gear, as they beganholding open meetings and working at a faster pace to build acommunity safety net for local Muslims, said Joudeh. After 9/11,the media emphasized the Arab American community, Joudeh said. Alot of people became curious who these people are and they came toknow that there are a lot of nice Muslim and Arabic people. Therelationship improved because people got to know each other a bitdeeper. Although the fear of terrorism may have created animmediate need to promote tolerance of Arabic people, theorganization also deals with more practical issues of teachingnewly-arrived immigrants how to find a job and learn to speakEnglish. Joudeh says he and the organization’s other fourco-founders had long felt the need for such an organization. Sincethe day we came here, we knew we needed someone to stand up andtake care of the needs of this community, he recalled.

PERSONAL: Joudeh moved to the United States in 1982 from Jordan,in an area that is now Palestine. After two years in Colorado, hemoved to Sheepshead Bay where he has remained ever since. He ismarried with four children, three sons and a daughter, all of whomare in their 20s. With his oldest son a doctor at Lutheran MedicalCenter, one son in law school, another studying to become apharmacist, and his daughter hoping to become a math teacher,Joudeh and his wife are already proud of their children’saccomplishments. We’re trying to bring productive people into thiscommunity and make this community advance as much as possible, hesaid.

JOB: Before opening Pharmacy on 5th in Bay Ridge in 2004, Joudehowned several grocery stores, but he happily traded them in for hiscurrent business. People come and they have their problems, hesaid. They want to talk to you. They want to talk to thepharmacist. It’s a much more relaxed profession.

INSPIRATION: A big part of Joudeh’s desire to serve his fellowArab Americans stems from the lack of support he received growingup in Jordan. Where I came from, there wasn’t much help forpeople, he said. You’re on your own and it’s very hard. Hebelieves in the work he does and hopes it will make things easierfor those who come after him. We’re helping people on a dailybasis and that makes me feel really good, Joudeh said. It makesme think we are paving the road for the next generation and thingswill be much easier for them.

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