Adam Interviews Rosa Wims

Adam Interviews

Rosa Wims was Rochester's first African-American nurse

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rosa Wims grew up in a Rochester where African-Americans went to a different hospital than their white neighbors.

“There was a black hospital, they didn’t get the same treatment and I could see that as a little girl,” Wims said.

It was then she decided to become a nurse.

“I realized if I got in there I could help, even if I got in there to pass the water, I’d be in there,” Wims said.

Her opportunity appeared during World War II.

The military needed as many nurses as they could get leaving hospitals in dire need of help.

“They needed nurses and they opened up schools,” Wims recounted. “’We’ll educate you if you just go to school, you don’t have to pay.’ I was one of the first ones in line.”

Wims, now 96, would go on to run a health center on Genesee Street, offering care to the poor and downtrodden.

On Monday, Wims and Foodlink, on whose board she used to serve on, will offer a community Thanksgiving dinner at the Montgomery Neighborhood Center at 10 Cady St., Rochester 14608.

It will be Wims 34th and the last as an organizer.

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