Mikal Abdullah, 60, of Egg Harbor Township, opened Mikal’s Funeral Parlor in Atlantic City 24 years ago with his wife, Constance. Over the years, the self-described shy young man with a stammer became comfortable talking to people at their most difficult times and left the stammer behind.
He has gone beyond his duties as a funeral director, friends say. He has given financial aid to many struggling families and has helped religious groups and those working to prevent violence in the city.
“I just want to be a good neighbor,” Abdullah said, adding he was raised in Atlantic City and many of his family members still live there.
Born Michael D. Washington, he changed his name in 1978, about a decade after becoming a Muslim.
“I had a lot of questions not answered for me in Catholic or Baptist churches,” he said, of his upbringing. “But then I ... got a better understanding of the real Islam, and broadened and embraced everybody,” he said. He is a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace and the NAACP, Muslim organizations and others.
Abdullah will be recognized Saturday with the first Community Service Award from The Friends of Mikal, a group of community activists that takes its name from the person it honors each year.
Wali Abdullah, 48, of Atlantic City, (no relation) formed a committee to honor someone each year who has had a positive impact on Atlantic City and beyond. Mikal Abdullah was an obvious first choice, Wali Abdullah said.
“We spend a whole lot of time focusing on negativity, about what goes on in our neighborhoods,” said Wali Abdullah. His group is taking the time to say thank you, he said.
Master Ryan Perkins of Ninja Martial Arts & Fitness Studio of Ventnor has volunteered his time and talents for Gilda’s Noogieland, teaching the basics of karate to the children affected by cancer, according to Gilda’s Club.
Gregory J. Battschinger, 15, of Boy Scout Troop 177, Egg Harbor Township, became an Eagle Scout Sept. 30. He is the son of Glenn Battschinger, of Mays Landing, and Veronique Hirt, of Galloway.
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Michelle Brunetti Post writes about the lives, careers and good deeds of South Jersey residents Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays in ‘Everyone Has a Story.’ To share your story, call 609-272-7219 or email MPost@pressofac.com