Refugees Helping Refugees (RHR) is a non-profit organization that serves refugees of Western New York. RHR seeks to foster the growth, self-determination, and self-reliance of Rochester’s refugee community by making them agents of their own advancement.

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Refugees Helping Refugees, initially incorporated under the name of The Somali Community in Western NY (SCWNY), was founded in 2002 as a 501-(c)(3) non-profit organization. Two Somali refugees, meeting in a small apartment at River Park Commons in Rochester, NY, did case management and after school tutoring. On December 31, 2015 the SCWNY was reincorporated as Refugees Helping Refugees, Inc to reflect its changed constituency – refugees from all countries. THe organization has been growing steadily ever since.

This year, one of the founders, Sadiya Omar, won the 2016 ESL Jefferson award.

Imagine arriving in Rochester with just the clothes on your back, no way to make money to feed your family, and sometimes no way to even communicate. That’s the story of 2016 ESL Jefferson Award Winner Sadiya Omar.

For somebody who comes from another country, not speaking the language, not knowing the culture,” says Omar. “It’s like you don’t know anything when you come here.

Omar runs the Refugees Helping Refugees Center on South Avenue which she created after coming to Rochester 15 years ago. At the center, Omar makes sure refugees can retain their native cultures, but also learn English and how to use computers. She helps them assimilate into the Rochester community, and often takes them on trips to the Public Market.

Our Purpose

We provide a number of programs to help refugees resettle in their new community.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like to volunteer or get involved.


Who We Are

We are an all-volunteer group of refugees and Americans working with refugees from many countries to foster understanding.



The RHR at 835 South Ave operates a range of programs with an all-volunteer staff.



Get Involved with RHR! We would love to welcome you into our community with any expertise you may bring.

Refugees Helping Refugees
is charitable organization.

We run primarily from community support. Please consider donating.

Donate to RHR


WEP training

Through RochesterWorks! RHR provides vocational training for refugee students in the form of sewing and cooking classes, cleaning and facility maintenance training, resume writing, and job searching.

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Senior services

Each Wednesday morning RHR provides an opportunity for refugee senior citizens to come together for an activity or presentation and fellowship with other community members.

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