Fajri Ansari’s story of service to the community could be written as a trilogy: religion, education and basketball, with all three passions intersecting on Buffalo’s East Side. Here, Fajri embraces the game-changing work to positively impact the lives of those in underserved communities.
As the beloved religious leader of Masjid Nu’Man on Fillmore Avenue in Buffalo, Fajri’s leadership has become a symbol of hope to not only the Muslim community, but to the interfaith community and the city of Buffalo as a whole. One of his cornerstones is “Putting the Neighbor Back in the Hood,” a weekend showcasing the Fillmore District, now in its 23rd year. The event is held at Box Street Park, once a dumping ground for garbage and drug activities, which is now a gathering place with new basketball courts and playground equipment thanks to Fajri’s efforts.
Coaching basketball was something Fajri got into almost 30 years ago as another way to give back. Sharing his leadership skills with students at Turner Carroll High School, he saw coaching as an opportunity to mentor hundreds of young men. While there, he also founded a camp that offered free SAT classes and studying materials to students. Fajri kept his focus on education, moving on to a position in Admissions at Buffalo State College. He became its Men’s Basketball Coach, where today he leads players to success on and off the court and ensures they do not lose sight of graduating with a degree.
By rallying people to embrace their potential and the community, Fajri’s dedication to Western New York has been game changing.