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 upon 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.