Saint's Place accepts donations Mondays through Thursdays at 46 S. Main , Pittsford
Saint's Place accepts donations Mondays through Thursdays at 46 S. Main , Pittsford
Rochester news reporters have been visiting Saint's Place to tell the community of our efforts to assist Afghan refugees coming to Rochester.
We've helped with resettling a handful of families so far, but we're expecting many more in the coming weeks. Click on the media organization's name to view their coverage.
Saint's Place would like to say a big "Thank You!" to the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit at 835 South Avenue in Rochester. For 15 years, the church opened its doors to our tutors. Our dedicated volunteers tutored hundreds of adult refugees and their children there. Thank you for allowing us to provide this valuable service!
This is our long time volunteer Joanne putting together babydoll kits for children. We take donated baby clothes and dolls, wash them, and then create a kit that includes a doll, clothes and a blanket and give them to children through our clothing closet.
We love donations of dolls and clothes and doll furniture that your children have outgrown.
Meet Saint’s Place Volunteer Carol Lawrence!
Reading and watching news reports about tragedies and challenges around the world led Carol Lawrence to Saint’s Place.
“I was increasingly disturbed by what I was seeing happen in the world, and frustrated like so many people are that you don’t know what to do about it, you feel helpless, you realize that you can’t save large groups of people from starvation,” Carol said. “And then I read a newspaper article about the Clothing Closet, and I thought, ‘That sounds really neat. It’s actually very close to me; there’s almost no reason that I shouldn’t be over there.’ And so I reached a point where I thought if I couldn’t do something big, I could do something small.”
That was three years ago, and since then Carol has been volunteering on Thursday mornings, and often on other days, too. Carol works in the room that features children’s clothing and men’s clothing.
At first, she felt timid about working with the refugees who didn’t speak much or any English, and she didn’t speak their language. “But then I very quickly learned that it’s pretty easy to communicate with people. The volunteers who have been here a long time taught me how you can use lots of hand action and mimicry, and it became great fun.”
Carol says one thing that has really struck her about the refugees is their optimism, especially when refugees have been waiting years to be allowed to enter the United States. “The people we see in here have been so strong and so resourceful just to get here. They have a huge amount of optimism so it’s really fun to meet them and to find ways to communicate.”
The volunteers sometimes learn the aspirations of the refugees. Carol recalls specifically an Afghanistan man who came with his wife and children to get clothing. He had worked as an interpreter with U.S. troops and he had come to Rochester through a program to help interpreters who find their lives in danger in their homeland.
This man spoke excellent English, and he planned to attend Monroe Community College and get licensed as an electrician, as he had done that work in Afghanistan. “That man came here with a plan, and he was accomplishing it.”
Carol sees him as just one example of the refugees who visit the Clothing Closet, often within days of their arrival in Rochester. “The whole cycle is very clear; there are people who are coming here, they have a plan, there’s a way for them to work through that plan and be very successful. And there are a lot of people like that.”
Although she may not meet a refugee more than once, Carol doesn’t forget any of them. “I meet a person, I meet a family, you go home and they’re with you, you think about them. Over and over and over again, you meet impressive people who are strong and have been through so much.”
Saint's Place was thrilled this week to award six laptop computers to students at RIA as part of our Educational Initiative. These particular laptops were donated by a very generous family as part of our Patron Saint's Campaign. I thought you'd like to hear what their teachers had to say about these students!
Ayat- She is a refugee from Iraq and is a very talented artist. She is a member of student government and sits on the RIA school based team as a student advocate. She destined the student government emblem and has done many things in the community pertaining to art. She is not afraid to speak up for what she believes in and when she does it's very powerful. She had dreams of pursuing a degree in architecture.
Rawan- She is a refugee from Syria. She is very smart and a member of student government. She wants to either attended Nazarath, or MCC to pursue a degree in nursing. She is the eldest girl in her family and does a tremendous job of balancing her home responsibilities and school work. She is quiet but when she speaks or contributes to groups it is always very powerful and thought provoking.
Mpenzi- He is a refugee from the Congo. He speaks several languages and is a talented soccer player and a RCSD Black Scholar. I honestly cannot say enough about Mpenzi. He is just someone you have to meet, his personality lights up a room especially when you get to know him. He is also an integral part of the RIA drumming group and student government. He wants to attend MCC next year with the hopes of transferring into Fisher or another school to pursue a degree in pharmacy.
Moada- She is a refugee from Sudan. She is also a member of student government as the Co-vice president and is an RCSD Black Scholar. She is a member of the RIA drumming group and is very passionate about her future. She plans to become a cardiac sonographer.
Merci- He is a refugee from Burundi. He, like Mpenzi speaks serveral languages (7) I believe. He is another one who is just a great kid. He's quiet but he has great ideas and a bright future ahead of himself. This past year he helped me coach the JV boys volleyball team because he was too old to play for me. He spent his free time after school during the season helping me because he loved playing the year before. He also works and plays soccer outside of school, is an RCSD Black Scholar, along with helping his family. He wants to go to Fisher or Nazerath to pursue Pre-med.
Lastly but certainly not least,
Hinari- Hinari is another gentleman you just have to meet. He is a refugee from Sudan. He has so much personality and is so personable. He is one of our students who is always willing to lend a hand, especially with our younger students. The elementary staff just loves him! He is so kind and is currently the student government president and a member of Interact club. He is also a student ambassador at RIA, an RCSD Black Scholar and much more. He plans to go to Nazerath, Fisher or MCC to become a teacher.
Meet Saint’s Place Volunteer Mary Galbraith
When refugees arrive in Rochester, Saint’s Place provides everything they need to make their apartments into warm and cheery homes.
Mary Galbraith often assists in that endeavor. Mary is a volunteer at the Saint’s Place Clothing Closet, which includes a large room of household items, either gently used or brand new.
“Think of anything that you use in your own house, that’s what we try to give them—dishes, glasses, pots and pans, utensils,” Mary says.
This also includes small kitchen appliances, such as rice cookers, along with table lamps, bedding and towels, even toys for the children. (Furniture, such as beds and kitchen tables, are stored at the Saint’s Place warehouse.)
Mary and the other volunteers receive information on each arriving family, so they know the number of people and their ages. “Sometimes they have specific needs and other times they just need a full household setup,” Mary notes.
Mary became interested in volunteering after hearing about Saint’s Place at her parish, St. Louis Church in Pittsford. “I wanted to see what it was all about. I called the Saint’s Place office, and had my interview and here I am.”
She started out volunteering one day a week, and she liked it so much that she gradually increased her commitment. She now comes every day that the Clothing Closet is open, Monday through Thursday mornings.
Mary gets a lot of satisfaction out of volunteering.
“The refugees are just wonderful people, the smiles, the hugs, I just love helping them,” Mary says. “I love seeing their faces when they get something new. It’s just unbelievable that things we take for granted are just so special to them. When you give the kids toys, it’s like you’re giving them a million dollars. The one thing I’ve learned is it doesn’t matter where people are from. People are people, and they have the same needs.”
An added bonus for Mary is the friendships she’s made with other volunteers. Volunteering at the Clothing Closet “is work, but it’s fun, too.”
Spectrum News Rochester came to Saint's Place on December 16th, 2019 to interview the staff and volunteers about our Refugee Christmas Baskets. This year Saint's Place is providing wish list items to 25 refugee families in Rochester. For many of them, it is their first Christmas season in the United States. A dozen additional families who only asked for clothing and bedding are visiting our Clothing Closet this week to receive new warm coats, boots, hats and mittens.
We are so grateful to the parishioners of St. Louis for their generous donations of items from our Angel Trees, for the donations of our community supporters including a grant from Catholic Family Center and for the numerous groups who have held coat drives or have spent hours making quilts and knitting hats and mittens. We couldn't do it without you!
Saint's Place has been working closely with Rochester International Academy for many years. Located on Edgerton Park in the city of Rochester, RIA is designed to facilitate the cultural and academic transition of newly arrived English Language Learners through rigorous language instruction and interdisciplinary learning in collaboration with families and community. Their current enrollment includes 318 refugee students.
Saint's Place has two volunteers who work with the RIA families and their social workers to identify ways we can help these families. Families from RIA frequently visit our Clothing Closet for winter clothing and school supplies and for several years, Saint's Place has provided school uniforms for the students.
This year, we donated khaki pants and the shirts you see in the photo above. In December of 2019, we are giving another 100 RIA hoodies for the older students.
Rochester International Academy is a wonderful, welcoming place for students who are learning a new language and adapting to a new culture and environment. We are privileged to work with them.
Want to learn more about RIA and their programs? Click the link below to go tho their website.
Joyous reunion happens at Saint’s Place tutoring center
Two Afghani women recently stopped by the Saint’s Place tutoring program at Guardian Angels Church in Henrietta.
Both of them had been tutored by Saint’s Place volunteers when they were children, and now in their 20s, they came bringing a new student with them — the husband of one of the women. He had just arrived from Afghanistan to begin a new life in Rochester.
“They went on and on about how wonderful (Saint’s Place Founder Colleen Knauf) and the program were, and how much it helped them,” says tutoring manager Geri Dolan. The Afghani family wanted the new arrival to have the same tutoring experience that they had had.
“Their enthusiasm and gratefulness made our day,” Geri says.
A week later, the family returned to the tutoring program, and this time, they were reunited with long-time volunteer Mary Ellen Capineri. Mary Ellen had tutored another daughter in the family for seven years, from the time she was in the fifth grade until she graduated from high school. That young woman went on to attend Monroe Community College, get married and relocated to Australia. “I remember the family fondly,” says Mary Ellen, especially one of the daughters who started the tutoring program as a five-year-old.
“It was a joyous reunion with lots of hugs and catching up and exchanging of phone numbers,” Geri says. “It is always a gift to be able to see your former students and find out where their lives have taken them.”
The tutoring program is an important aspect of Saint’s Place ministry. Refugees need to learn English so they can assimilate, get an education, and get jobs. The program has been in existence for 20 years. Tutoring takes place from 4:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays at Guardian Angels Church in Henrietta and Thursdays at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit in Rochester.
If you are wondering about whether you are qualified to be a tutor, Geri says tutors come from a variety of backgrounds and ages and include high school and college students. Prospective tutors fill out paperwork and must take CASE (Creating a Safe Environment) online training as required by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester.
To learn more about volunteering, call Saint’s Place at (585) 358-6860 or fill out an online form here: https://saintsplace.org/contact-us
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