Educate. Enlighten. Empower.
What we do

We create networks and opportunities to educate, enlighten, and empower Jamaicans in Rochester, New York.

Mission & Values
Rochester Jamaican Organization Inc. is committed to improving the lives of Jamaicans living in Rochester and Jamaica through its own capacity building and collaboration with U.S. and Jamaican-based organizations. 
A Note from our President
On behalf of the Executive Board, Advisory Council and members of the Rochester Jamaican Organization, Inc., please accept my warmest welcome. As members of the Jamaican Diaspora we stand committed to serving our community (both in Jamaica and Rochester, NY), the pillar upon which the Rochester Jamaican Organization, Inc. was founded. The organization is committed to its charge of perpetuating the Jamaican heritage in the Rochester community while facilitating assimilation into the American society; and improving the living and educational conditions of the economically disadvantaged in Jamaica. This is only possible with your help. As we embark on these goals, personal responsibility remains a key factor; but the collective wisdom of this organization and our country will propel us to the overall community and national development to which we aspire. Once again, welcome.

Joel Frater, Ed.D
President of the Rochester Jamaican Organization
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We are in pursuit of the highest quality of programs and service and are committed to the best outcomes.

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We are providing members with the necessary support, authority, and opportunity to advance our mission .

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Meeting and exceeding the needs of members, friends of the organization, and its benefactors and beneficiaries.

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Demonstrating strong ethical or moral standards in conducting the business of the organization at all levels.

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Responsibly managing current assets and preparing for the future leadership and financial sustainability of the organization.

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Collaborating with Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica from a wide range of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, cultural backgrounds, and experiences.

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Ensuring that everyone who is eligible has an equal chance at opportunities for programs and services offers by the organization.

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Applying policies to ensure all people feel welcome and that leaders and members demonstrate behaviors that allow different perspectives, opinions, and experiences to be heard and recognized.

Our Team
Meet Our Leadership Team

Connect with and learn more about our team members who work tirelessly to create a positive impact in the lives of Jamaican youth, community members, and friends of Jamaica.

Joel Frater, Ed.D, President
Lenora Reid-Rose,
Vice President
Steven Service,
Marjorie Thomas, Treasurer

Advisory Council

• Howard Allen
• Kevin Beckford
• Hope Drummond
• Nana Duffy
• Garth Fagan
• Delroy Morgan
• Dr. Earlando Thomas
• Karen Bailey Turner
• Kate Washington

Our story
Hear the Stories of Jamaicans in Rochester
The First Arrival
We have been told that Jamaicans have been here in Rochester since the early 1900’s and maybe before. However, we can verify that Ursula Simmons migrated from Jamaica to Rochester in 1914 at age 21, and upon arriving in Rochester met several migrant Jamaican workers.  

According to University of Rochester history, chapter 31, Section X, the University hired a contingent of Jamaican workers in 1945 when there was a labor shortage at the hospital.

Jamaicans have contributed to the development of Rochester, from being involved in the Underground Railroad to the building of the City of Rochester downtown.
Rochester pioneers of Jamaican descent include:

• Ursula Simmons migrated to the United States in 1914 at the age of 21. She was one of the first Jamaican foster mothers in Rochester and was instrumental in establishing the first African American Seventh Day Adventist church where they addressed the needs and concerns of people of color. That church she started resulted in the present-day Seventh Day Adventist Church on Jefferson Ave.

• George Gordon was a migrant worker who became the first Jamaican Head of the Laborers Union.

• Stephen G. Vasciannie Sr. founded Steve General Contractor, Inc. in 1953 and became one of the largest minority commercial construction companies in Western New York.

Stanley George started the first Jamaican Organization.

Father Brown was the first Jamaican Priest at the St. Simon's Church.

David James was the first Jamaican Principal at No. 3 School.

• Pearl Rugless and Monica George were among the early Jamaican hairdressers in Rochester.

• Dr. Sebert Douglas was one of the first practicing Jamaican medical doctors in Rochester.

• Garth Fagan is a world renowned choreographer and Tony Award winner.

• Dr. Lauriston O’Connor was one of the first Jamaican dentists in Rochester.

• Deloris Lewis was the first Jamaican to become certified to practice midwifery in Rochester.
Impact Forward Timeline
Get Involved

How You Can Support

Our progress would not be possible without the support of our community, volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We are truly grateful for everyone's support!

You can support our mission by becoming a member or donating.
Support Our Mission

Another Year, Another Milestone

This year we're celebrating 16 years of the Rochester Jamaican Organization positively impacting the lives of Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica in Rochester and Jamaica.

We're also celebrating 60 years of Jamaica's independence!
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2018 - 2021

Growth and Transition

During this transition period, the Rochester Jamaican Organization continued to operate and grow. We partnered with local restaurant, Peppapot, and proudly delivered more than 300 curbside meals to mothers, homebound senior mothers during the pandemic.
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2014 - 2017

Significant Moments

In 2016, we hosted our Caribbean Film Series in partnership with The Baobab Cultural Center, our Annual Golf Tournament, and our Annual Gala.
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2010 - 2013

Significant Moments

We continued to grow and strengthen our network and partnered with multiple organizations to host a Community Health Fair and helped community members access the care they need.
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2006 - 2009

Building a Foundation

In 2006, we officially formed as an the Rochester Jamaican Organization to provide access to resources and support to Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica in Rochester and Jamaica.
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Download our Annual Reports & By-Laws