Message from Our Assistant Manager
RRRS owns and/or manages up to 27 houses, in the Edgerton and Maplewood neighborhoods of Rochester, housing over 200 refugees from Nepal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar and Somalia. This because we believe home is where it all begins. By providing safe, affordable and energy efficient housing, RRRS is contributing to the success of the refugee community and to the City of Rochester.
For me, it’s a wonderful experience working with contractors, city and county officials preparing houses to meet the city’s property rental codes, then watching as newly arrived refugees occupy them, bringing a taste of their cultures whether it’s Nepalese, Congolese, Burmese or Somali to the house. We are not only improving the standard of the houses to meet the city’s property rental codes, but also are enhancing the health, safety and affordability of the refugees to live in them. Again, because we believe in the success of the refugees and that the success of Rochester depends on it.
In 2016 we completely rehabbed 10 properties which total up to 13 living units. All now have a certificate of occupancy and are rented. We insulated 9 of the 13 units which were in need of insulation after conducting energy audits of them all. Five of the 13 units had old drafty wood windows, so we replaced them with energy efficient vinyl windows. Our paid property maintenance staff of two, who came to the country as refugees from Burundi and Myanmar, understand both the difficulties and joys faced by refugees in a new country and they do a fantastic job keeping up with the maintenance of the properties.
However, our success as organization which owns and manages properties depends tremendously on three volunteer contractors: Pete, Leon and Walt, who drive every day from across the county into the city to help us. These houses were not built last year or within the last two decades. The oldest we have, was built in 1880. Thus, the houses are always in need of repair, mostly plumbing. As an example, explaining to newly arrived refugees, who likely have not previously lived in a house, not to pour down grease in the kitchen sink isn’t easy but it part of the learning process. Although it’s frustrating at times, it’s also has its reward when you walk in the house one day and the refugee has a bucket in the kitchen into which she is pouring the grease.
Most the refugees who live in our houses we have been paired up with sponsors; groups of individuals that work with the families in the hope of easing their integration into our city and the country. These individuals are many and they are a big part of our success as a refugee resettlement agency. Like Pete, Leon and Walt, these individuals, who come from all across the county to read to our refugees, practice speaking and writing English and help them understand what is in their mail. They take them out site seeing across the city, museum, parks and get them to various social and medical services as needed. Housing is only part of what we do. Our goal is to see to it that all refugees who arrive here in our great city become self-sufficient. We have a high school equivalency program to assist those without U.S degrees get a degree in order to improve their employability. We also have a driving training program which not only increases their employment prospects but helps them retain a job, once they have one. We have temp agency that helps give refugees experience in the workplace and creates for them a U.S work history. Our success depends on volunteers whether contractors or sponsors. Therefore, you’re always welcome to our office on 759 Dewey Avenue. Please do not hesitate to come in at any time Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. - Djifa Kothor, Assistant Manager.
Mike Miller's Basic Computer Class
Computer whiz Mike Miller, who keeps our class computers running, also teaches a very basic computer class for refugees whose language skills are very limited. Mike’s class works on familiarizing refugees with how the computer works, how to get information and how to give information. As well as understanding computers, these folks are learning English.
Many thanks to Mike for his efforts!
Refugee Scholarship Program
Students from refugee families face some extraordinary challenges in school. Some who come from little or no formal education must learn English and catch up with American school curriculum as well as make cultural adjustments.
Realizing that this is a daunting and sensitive situation Kathy LaBue, retired director and founder of Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach, started a scholarship program to help refugee students into parochial schools. Holy Cross School and Bishop Kearney High School have been the strongest collaborators in this effort. These two schools have extended themselves to accommodate our students, who are thriving in these environments.
Holy Cross and Bishop Kearney are not free, so a scholarship fund has been set up to help defray tuition and school expenses. The students’ families are expected to contribute some to the cause, the students themselves are required to do community service above and beyond any requirements for same that the school expects and RRRS donates through our dedicated home-buying program. Costs run about $2000/student/year. This year we have 28 students. Please consider helping us. You can contact Kathy via her e-mail here for further information or mail checks to RRRS Scholarship Fund, att: Kathy LaBue, PO box 15733, Rochester, NY 14615. All donations are appreciated and are tax deductible.
Deu Awuok signed for Canisius College on March 2 2017, where he will continue his Scholarship level scholastics and will also continue to play Soccer. Academically, Canisius is the best fit for Deu whose major will be Accounting. Deu came to the US in 2009 and will graduate Bishop Kearney June ’17. Congratulations Deu!
Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services (RRRS) is partnering with ABC, Action for a Better Community, on a federal health grant, Health Profession Opportunities Grant (HPOG). The Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program was established by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) to provide education and training programs in high-demand health care professions to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients AND other low-income individuals. This program is an important federal effort to improve the labor market opportunities of disadvantaged populations within the health care field.
Donate to the RRRS via United Way of Greater Rochester
We are happy to announced the RRRS has been approved as a donor designation eligible agency for the United Way Campaign, by the United Way of Greater Rochester.
Our donor designation number is 3328. If you would like to make sure that your United Way donation goes to the RRRS, when you fill out the United Way Designation Form, enter Rochester Refugee Resetttlement Services, Inc. as the designated recipient, along with this number.