Hoping for an Angel

Hoping for an Angel

Rising Hope volunteer needs help for his son.

A volunteer with years of service at Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church which aids the needy along the Route 1 corridor, Abderrahim Lahlou believes people can be angels.

Now, after four heart attacks and unable to hold a steady job, he’s hoping an angel from the Mount Vernon community will come forth. “I’m the one in need to help my son,” he said.

His son, Adel, is a recent graduate of Mount Vernon High School. With his father urging him on, he worked very hard. His grades and test scores were outstanding. He was named Most Valuable Player on the cross country team in 2010. In their modest home on Buckman Court stands a trophy case full of academic and sports awards.

When it came time for college, Lahlou’s belief in the American Dream came true. Adel won a full scholarship to Northwestern University, with total yearly awards and assistance amounting to over $60,000.

But there was a hitch.

The university expects the family to provide $4,300 yearly to cover books, personal expenses and travel. Lahlou can’t provide it. Though his son is home now for Christmas break, he had no money to travel home for Thanksgiving. Adel might have to withdraw.

It was 20 years ago when Lahlou and his wife Leonora immigrated from Morocco. She is Catholic and he is Muslim. He had worked as a CPA at the airport in Casablanca, but he couldn’t find comparable work here.

Willing to work hard, he bought a franchise with Jani-King doing office cleaning and maintenance work, employing as many as five people. Meanwhile, when Rising Hope opened a few blocks from his home six years ago, he liked the idea of aiding the needy. He volunteered working in the food pantry and driving to pick up and deliver groceries. Life looked promising.

But then came problems with the franchiser, the loss of his franchise, and then the heart attacks.

“After my heart attacks I thought to myself, ‘Hey, God gave me an extra life. If only I can do something good to help others.’”

He increased his volunteering at Rising Hope. These days, sometimes it is a struggle. When he carries groceries to a shut-in in a third floor apartment, he must pant to catch his breath. Still, he knows God expects him to help.

“We all can be like angels if we wanted to,” he said.

To be an angel to Lahlou and Adel, call Rising Hope Mission Church at 703-360-1976 and ask for Mary Hamilton or Sarah Heckman.


Abderrahim Lahlou, left, heads off to deliver groceries to shut-ins. Helping him is fellow volunteer Charlie Hicks.