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 an all-volunteer 501-(c)(3) non-profit organization. In 2015, SCWNY was reincorporated as Refugees Helping Refugees to reflect its changed constituency – refugees from all countries.

Two Somali refugees, meeting in a small apartment at River Park Commons in Rochester, NY, recognized the need for case management advocacy for Somali elders and families. The organization that they founded has been growing steadily and today offers a wide range of services to refugees including ESOL classes, case management, healthy living programs, vocational training, senior services, legal counseling, and more.

In 2016, one of the founders, Sadiya Omar, won two ESL Jefferson Awards for Public Service; one at the local level (in Rochester, NY) and one at the national level. The national Jefferson Awards were bestowed on 15 recipients from throughout the country whose lives, careers and volunteer activities “embody the finest examples of public service in a range of human endeavors.”  In 2014 Sadiya, with Dr. Louise Bennett, was a finalist for the Farash Charitable Foundation Prize for Social Entrepreneurship. That year she was also a finalist for the Roslyn S. Jaffe Award, for making a meaningful difference in the lives of refugee women and children.

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 259 Rutgers Street 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.

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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

Every Wednesday afternoon 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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