ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — With more than 45 homicides to date this year in Rochester, countless families are left in need of support. One local non-for-profit has made it its mission to offer that assistance.
Rise Up Rochester has helped empower, support and maintain a non-violent culture in city communities since 2009. The group accomplishes this through a variety of programs ranging from billboard campaigns, to support groups.
The organization’s Executive Director, Wanda Ridgeway, knows all too well the impact this non-for-profit can have.
“I witnessed my boyfriend being murdered and I lost a nephew to homicide. I was very angry, hurt, and didn’t know what to do. I faced a lot of self-hurt,” Ridgeway said.
Ridgeway says she soon realized, through her own healing, that there was much more to be done to help victims of violence. One of the programs offered by Rise Up Rochester, Serve, aims to do just that.
The program works with crime victims from a number of violent situations, according to Isabel Rosa, Serve Coordinator. They create safety plans and offer resources to get these victims back on their feet. Rosa said one of the most important tasks is finding safe housing for the families she works with. This decreases their chances of being re-victimized, but finding that housing is not always an easy task.
“The demand and the need are just growing,” Rosa said. “And the resources go quickly.”
Serve hopes to combat these issues with their newly-formed task force. The task force partners with organizations around Rochester to create goals and provide services to families in need. The task force meets every Monday, and is still accepting new members.
“The idea is, your program has something to offer,” Rosa said. “The participant may benefit from it right away, or they may benefit from it in six months, or in a year. But I don’t think there’s a service that we could not use.”
Rosa and Ridgeway emphasized that Rise Up Rochester is a safe space for all, including those who have considered turning to violence themselves.
“I want to reach out to the perpetrators that are doing these shootings, and tell them just remember that it doesn’t have to end this way. You’re not only hurting another family but you’re hurting yours as well because you will be caught,” Ridgeway said. “Just think that could be your mother looking at you in your coffin, that could be your mother going to visit you in a jail cell. It’s not worth it. It’s really not worth it. Whatever we can do to help you, we will.”
Rise Up Rochester is still looking for volunteers for many of its programs. If you, or someone you know, needs assistance you can contact Rise Up Rochester at 585-454-3060 or visit 244 S Plymouth Avenue. For additional information on upcoming events visit riseuprochester.net.