Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment

May 2022

Hello RISE Friends,
On Thursday, April 28th we celebrated RISE’s 4th Annual Night of Nations event. We celebrated cultural diversity and the strength and resilience of the New American community.
We honored the following individuals and organization who have dedicated their outstanding support for our refugees and immigrants.
Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Ginny Donohue, Founder, former Executive Director, OnPoint for College

Community Builder Award

  • Angela M. Douglas, Co-Executive Director, Vera House
  • Rita Paniagua, Councilor At-Large, City of Syracuse, Common Council

Ambassador Award

  • David Knapp, 12th District Onondaga County Legislator
  • Tia Ngo Shaw, CEO, CNY Uniforms Plus

Collaborator Award

  • The Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY, Inc. 

Since RISE opened its doors in 2004, we have assisted thousands of individuals from 25 different nations through employment opportunities, education, social support, and economic independence as they begin a new life in the United States. They have fled horrific violence and unrest within their home countries, as I did, when I left Somalia for safety in Kenya to remain there in a refugee camp for many years until I was able to come to the United States with my wife and small children. As a former refugee, I understand firsthand the struggles and obstacles that await those arriving in the US, which guides my leadership for the organization and those we serve.

Our outreach remained constant throughout the COVID 19 crises, and today we continue to serve individuals who have basic human needs, employment, care and case management, food insecurity, English as a new language, citizenship classes and youth education programs.
Last year, we began a partnership with the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) to support resettlement for our Afghan brothers and sisters. We are proud of this collaboration and the help we can provide to make them welcome.
Our Annual Night of Nations event raises funds to continue providing the programs and services that assist our clients as they become empowered and fully self-sufficient. My sincerest thanks to our event chairpersons: Michelle Saya and Joe Alfieri, the event committee, sponsors, donors, attendees, and media partners. 
You all chose to support the mission of RISE, and in doing so, you chose to empower and uplift hundreds of refugees and immigrants right here in your hometown. I greatly appreciate your kindness and compassion.

– Haji

Annually, RISE provides services for nearly 600 refugee and immigrant families from over 25 nations worldwide. As a nonprofit organization, we rely directly on the community’s support and commitment to our cause.

We’d like to thank this year’s Night of Nations Sponsors, we are honored to have your support!

  • Presenting Sponsor: C&S Foundation 
  • Partnership Sponsors: Ashley McGraw Architects and The Reisman Foundation
  • Supporting Sponsors: KeyBank, Loretto, Molina Healthcare, Prudent Engineering LLP and Wegmans
  • Community Sponsors: AmeriCU Credit Union, CenterState CEO, Hayner Hoyt Corporation, King + King Architects, LeCHASE, Project C by National Grid, E. Smith Contractors, LLC, NH Smith Consulting, Stickley, St. Joseph’s Health, Syracuse University, TruCare Connections, Inc., and Upstate University Hospital. 
  • Special Event Media Partners: NewsChannel 9 and Park Outdoor Advertising

Thank you all for making Night of Nations a huge success! From the bottom of our hearts, we’d like to thank each and every one of you for joining us. Our gratitude also goes out to our event committee, staff, board members, and sponsors without whom this event wouldn’t have been possible.

Night of Nations is a predominant source of funding to allow RISE to continue and enhance essential services to empower refugees and immigrants here in Central New York.

If you were unable to attend the premiere of our 4th Annual Night of Nations Event, please click here: to view the event.

Thank you for helping us further our mission!

Staff Spotlight 
Lucy Spence
Director of Agriculture

Lucy Spence is the Agriculture Program Director at RISE. Before coming to RISE Lucy worked with the Peace Corps in Panamá as an agriculture volunteer in a small indigenous community high up in the mountains. In her time there Lucy adopted a puppy, named Bo, who she managed to bring back to the United States with her.
In 2020, Lucy joined RISE as the Agriculture Program Coordinator overseeing all vegetable programs. She spent a lot of time at the farms and gardens working one on one with farmers and learning about the beautiful food cultures from their home countries. 
After a year Lucy became the Program Director and now oversees the goat farm program. This federally funded project is helping to increase the availability of affordable, culturally appropriate meat and doubling as a workforce development project. Alongside this program, Lucy works in program development to continue expanding the program as new agricultural needs arise. Lucy oversees a team of six staff members working on the farms, community gardens, and the goat farm.
Lucy hopes to keep seeing the agriculture department expanding to assist more and more individuals with access to land to grow food at whatever scale they desire. Agriculture staff are hard at work trying to help farmers sell their produce to generate an income and share less traditional vegetables with the public. As the seedlings in the greenhouse are growing big and strong and the snowfall is lessening, the agriculture staff are getting more and more excited for this growing season.
When Lucy is not working for RISE she is an avid rock climber and hiker (with her dog of course). She also enjoys experimenting with growing fun vegetables and flowers in her garden and experimenting with baking and fermentation in the kitchen.

Please visit our updated website!


We would like to thank the following organizations for their generous donations and support given to RISE. 

  • The Dewitt Rotary Club
  • Manlius Lions Club
  • Stewart’s Sweet Shoppes
  • Prudent Engineering, LLP  

Case Management &
Employment Services

Reinforcing our Commitment

The mission of the Employment Program is to help our members, based on their career goals and past experience, and identify matching job opportunities. The program also provides employment coaching and guidance to job seekers so that they can secure and maintain long-term employment.

Assistance with employment includes helping write resumes and cover letters, searching for jobs, applying for jobs, following up with employers, preparing for interviews, providing transportation and assisting during interviews when necessary, assisting with the onboarding, helping with interpretation during orientation and other phases of the hiring process, mediating in case of crisis between the employer and the employee.

Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment, (RISE), provides all essential services to ensure that all New Americans can live productive lives, engage in their communities, and continue to pursue successful integration. RISE Bridging Case Managers assist refugee & immigrants in navigating everyday tasks that may seem overwhelming or complex but are ultimately necessary for their path to self-sufficiency.

​For more information, please visit our website at

Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) wishes to thank Solon Quinn Studios for updating the professional photos of our Agency’s leadership team. 

The Early Childcare Seminar Series

We are equipping entrepreneurs from the refugee and immigrant community with the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to open and operate a childcare center.
Classes are available Friday from 9-12 and Saturday from 12-3 at the White Branch Library.
People can reach out to Katy for registration information at