MEET THE REFUGEES
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
"I started volunteering when the entire operation was on Main Street. The refugees were brought here for clothes. A couple of months into my “volunteer career”, a family from Bhutan came in consisting of a mother, father, a couple of children and grandma. Grandma was dressed in a sari, a team jacket from some high school and a knit hat with a NY Yankees emblem on it. Her face was weathered and she resembled Mother Teresa. She stopped me in the hall, put her hands together and bowed her head in thanks for helping her family. I’ll never forget her. And as Mother Teresa said, “If you do it to help others, you do it to Jesus”.
I don’t see the refugees any more, but I put together their bedding and soft goods they need for their new home. I see their names, ages and where they’re from on their intake sheets. Whether it’s Maya, or Mohammed, or Ilunge, or little Raisa, I know I’m making their lives a little better. Someone told me, “You have to have a why in your life” - a why to get up in the morning, a why to keep busy. I found my why fifteen years ago at Saints Place."
-Mary Ann Weiner "The Linen Lady"
From those who work in the offices and collection station at the house on South Main Street in Pittsford, to the clothing closet at St. John of Rochester and the tutoring venue at the Greek Orthodox, from those who drive vans between the warehouse and refugees’ homes to those who spend hours on the computer, and the 200 pairs of willing hands who make the yearly fundraiser so successful, Saints Place volunteers, with selfless generosity, work hard to accommodate the needs of the people they serve.
For ten years, Jeanne Corcoran has sorted clothes, and “dressed” new arrivals, she has taught English to adults and helped teens with their homework. Her sister, Pat, has devoted countless hours to tutoring young people, finding scholarships for them to private schools, and helping them navigate the complexities of paper work and legal issues. Lillian Jabbour can be found at the clothing closet and as Geri Dolan’s right hand woman at tutoring on Thursday afternoon where every refugee will tell you that Lillian gives the best hugs!
Dick Wiener, with infinite patience and dedication, teaches English to 30 students, ages 10 to 75 while his wife, Mary Ann, manages, with good humor, to keep a huge supply of incoming linens in order and available for use. Bernie Trombetta, who, in her past life, served as a nurse at mission posts in Africa and Haiti, now can be found in the kitchen on Main Street, expertly sorting dishes, glasses and pots and pans that will be gratefully used by Saints Place clients.
This is just a small sampling of life at Saints Place where not only saints, but angels abound.
Refugees are real people, just like you and me. They have hopes and dreams. No one chooses to be a refugee. Each refugee has a unique story, yet all refugees share years of hardship, deprivation and fear. Their stories are of bravery, determination and human strength. All refugees express gratitude for the opportunity to come to the United States. A new beginning, a chance to start over, their opportunity has now become our responsibility - to welcome the stranger.
When the refugees arrive in Rochester, they are happy to be in a safe place, but they also experience a tremendous sense of loss. They leave behind family, friends, homes, possessions, and livelihoods. They must start over in a strange country, unable to speak the language or understand the customs. It is an overwhelming experience. Our goal is to assist the refugees in becoming self-sufficient as quickly as possible. By respecting their dignity and encouraging self-reliance we are hoping to streamline their transition into American society.
REFUGEES ARE LIVING IN POVERTY TOO...
The wealthiest upstate school district is also in Monroe County, and at their closest points, they are exactly 1.5 miles apart.
Rochester is the 5th poorest city in the country (among the 75 largest metro areas).
The school district poverty rate is 88% for those who attend Rochester City Schools.
How can you help the thousands of refugees that live in the Rochester area ?
1. Emphasizing education as one of the ways to transition from poverty
2. Create an understanding that poverty is a problem for all, not just for the poor and those communities that house the poor in great numbers
3. Involve and engage our diverse community
More than 25,000 children live in poverty in Rochester.
Affordable rental housing in Rochester is nearly non-existent, with only two towns, Greece and Brighton, having 5,000 units of any type.
Rochester is the poorest large urban school district in New York State and its student academic performance is also the poorest.
46 South Main Street
Pittsford, NY 14534
Open Monday-Thursday 8:30 - 4:00