RRRS Mission Statement

Collaborating to provide services and opportunities to ensure assimilation of refugees into our society by providing assistance as they strive to be self-sustaining neighbors while still maintaining their own cultural heritage.

Special Recognition

Emma Lay Htoo portrait

RRRS gives special recognition to Ema Lay Htoo who just received her first paycheck. Ema Lay Htoo is completely deaf, and has found the transition into American culture especially challenging because of her disability.

Fortunately for her she has had an advocate in Liz Ewell. Liz has been working with refugees for several years under the auspices fo Lake Avenue Baptist Church and Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach Center. She also comes with an extensive background of experience with deaf people having worked at NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf) for many years.

This is a temporary job for Ema Lay but it is a start and she is proud to be able to pay her own way. She communicates by texting on her phone, and Liz hopes to find a volunteer who will teach Ema sign language.

About RRRS

Rochester Refugee
Resettlement Services

759 Dewey Avenue

Rochester, NY 14613



Monday-Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.


Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services accepts financial contributions as well as donations of couches, tables, chairs, and other household items that are in good condition. If you would like to schedule a pick-up, please contact Michael Coniff at (585) 732-5803. Your gift is tax-deductible! If you are interested in helping refugees through a financial gift, please mail your check payable to:

Rochester Refugee
Resettlement Services

Attn: Michael Coniff

P. O. Box 15733

Rochester, NY 14615

If you have any questions about donations, please contact Michael Coniff at 585-319-3134 or by email.

All of the organizations listed on this site are in great need of volunteers! If you are interested in volunteering, there are links for contacting each organization on their respective pages.

Our New Classroom Takes Shape

RRRS workers work on new classroom ceiling

Oo Reh and Leon Perkins in the midst of garage renovations.

Thanks to generous grants from the Devany fund and the First Unitarian Church RRRS has been able to proceed with our classroom & computer training facility. What was just a small and unused storage space will now offer our people a chance to become computer literate.

RRRS director accepts check for workers

Mike Coniff receives the RRRS grant check from the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, presented by Adam Hill.

We have been blessed with construction volunteers Leon and Walt as well as our refugee rehabber in training, Oo Reh who are doing the work.

The program will teach basic skills with an emphasis on getting a job. In addition to Mike, Volunteer Bobbie Majka will help students prepare an effective resume which they can then post electronically to employers. Having successfully done this, each student will be allowed to take the computer home and we will begin again with a new class needing new computers.


Driver's Training Program at RRRS

The Rochester Refugee Driving Program started October 22, 2014, with twelve students, all from Burma. However, by March 28, we had over 80 refugees from Burma, Congo, DR. North Korea, and Nepal.

Classroom instruction on learner’s permit was provided by RRRS staff and volunteers on Wednesdays at 10am at the RRRS office on 759 Dewey Avenue for three weeks. The classes expanded when we discovered some of the refugees’ learner’s permits had or was about to expired. At the end of that three week class, 7 of the students passed, three failed and two never returned or taken the permit tests to our knowledge.photo of participant in RRRS Driver'sTraining Program

The refugees were divided into two groups, based on their driving experience or lack of thereof. The refugees with more experience attended two-hour instruction days on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons with focus on parallel parking, K-turn etc. Those with less experience attended two-hour instruction on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

By early December, 21 of the refugees without their five-hour pre-license certificates had completed their course at Morgan School of Driving and were awarded the certificates.  By late December, we started registering the refugees that we and professional driving instructors at Morgan School Driving felt could passed the road test.

As of June 23, a total of 15 refugees had taken their road tests, 9 of them passed and 6 failed.  However, the 6 that failed have scheduled their appointments for late August and September. In addition, six more refugees had completed their five-hour pre-license course at the Morgan School of Driving and thus were awarded their five-hour pre-license certificates.

During the course of the program, we had couple of close calls, but luckily the cars took most of the damages thus we had to replace about four tires, replace the passenger doors and had the cars towed couple times.

The goal of the program was to help the refugees in our neighborhoods achieve self-sufficiency by enabling them the ability to drive thus finding permanent employment opportunities that they would not otherwise have if they do not drive or drive without license. Thus, we had hope that the number (9) who passed would have been hired. However, of the 9 who passed, 6 now have full jobs and one has a part-time job and are now driving legally back and forth from to work. Two of the 7 with jobs got their jobs after passing their road tests. Two are homemakers, who can now legally drive and pick-up their children from school, take their children to the store with them and to hospital appointments and not rely on their husbands who are often forced to take time off work to do that.

Most importantly, it is our hope that those 9 who have passed the road test can now be the leaders of their communities and teach their community members how to drive and get their driver’s licenses.

On behalf of Refugee Advisory Committee of Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services, we want to thank the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People, the Rochester Community Foundation and the Devany Fund for their generous financial support of the Rochester Refugee Driver’s Education Program. In addition, we also like to thank the staff at the Morgan School of Driving and the United Nations Association of Rochester for making this program possible.

For more information on the program, please contact Djifa Kothor at 585.281.6839 or via email here.