ProjectsTogether we build community with many cultures. The founders and individuals involved in the projects listed below have made our vision a reality. All projects listed were started by individuals in the community that actively began assisting refugees and immigrants through the integration process without the direct engagement of MVRCR staff. Some of the projects collaborated with MVRCR, but were created and sustained through community members.

Projects are listed alphabetically. Please take the time to review them all as you may find there is an opportunity to join the movement and assist in building community today! (If you have a project you would like featured on the website please contact an administrator via the Contact page, e-mailing or calling 315.738.1083.)

American and Refugee Students for Closer Connection

This group was started by a former Karen refugee from Burma, Pawsansoe Karen Bree. This group is about making a better connection for American students who were born and grew up in America and Refugees students who have to move to America because they can't live in their own country anymore. The purpose is to learn and understand one another better. The group sometimes has events for new refugee youth and is always looking for volunteers. Join the Facebook group today. Get involved and make an impact.

Midtown Utica Community Center

The Midtown Utica Community Center is a multi-cultural community center in the heart of Utica at the former Episcopal church of All Saints facility. The mission is to foster inclusive community participation by providing an environmentally sound facility for arts, recreation, celebration, and locally based human services in order to increase opportunity for personal and collective growth in our community. The possibilities are endless and it's changing every day. They opened the doors April 1st and the activity hasn't stopped. Ideas, energy, and positive vibes are welcome.

Redeemer Cup – Utica

An international soccer tournament organization by Redeemer Church of Utica showcasing the diversity of the Mohawk Valley. The tournament is organized every other year and features teams from all major ethnic communities.

Refugees Starting Over Utica, NY

“Refugees Starting Over in Utica, NY” project, otherwise known as “Starting Over,” was founded in 2012 in order to increase student and community awareness and learn more about resettled refugees’ lives and stories.

Utica is The Town that Loves Refugees – but do those refugees love Utica back? The project Refugees Starting Over in Utica, NY (“Starting Over”) set out to answer this question. The culminating work was a short film that is viewable online.


Re.Source Traditional Artisans is a micro-enterprise group of diverse artisans from many different refugee and immigrant communities, representing several different cultures. The project was setup to allow for these creative and talented artists to pursue and continue with their traditional art forms and handicrafts within the United States, and also earn supplemental income for their work.

At its inception, Re.Source Traditional Artisans began by bringing micro-enterprise opportunities to resettled refugees in the Utica area, specifically from the Karen community, an ethnic group from Myanmar. From the Karen community, many artisans work to produce their traditional textiles through the use of portable back-strap looms, which they work out of their homes in their spare time. They produce scarves, handbags and many other colorful and traditional clothing items. Currently we are made up of artisans representing from the Somali-Bantu community, Iraq, Chad, Bosnia, Ghana, Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, Palestine, Belarus, Yemen and the Dominican Republic. Our micro-enterprise endeavors include fabric and textile arts, home goods, jewelry making, painting, woodcarving, and baking. To schedule a viewing of our handmade, local and unique items or to make a purchase, please contact Jennifer Cieslewitz at 315.738.1083 ext. 134 or by email at

Snapshots of Resettlement

A digital showcase of images and stories of Resettled Refugees in Utica, NY. These snapshots of resettlement tell the stories of where the refugees came from, what their lives were like in refugee camps, and how things have turned out for them in central New York. This site highlights the archived collection of images from the Starting Over project at SUNYIT. The photos also highlight great local ethnic food and markets.

Utica Entrepreneurial Opportunity Project

The Utica Entrepreneurial Opportunity Project is an ongoing research and connection project, helping to assist individuals in the refugee and immigrant communities in Utica with entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise. The project began in September 2013 with the support of the AmeriCorps VISTA program and a consortium of higher education institutions in the Central New York area. Initially the main goal of the project was to gain insight into all of the various community resources and organizations working with entrepreneurship as well as gain insight about entrepreneurship from within the refugee and immigrant communities about their personal success stories and barriers. Through the project there have been efforts to strengthen micro-enterprise endeavors, especially for women in these communities, through a partnership with the Re.Source. Click here for an August 2014 Report regarding the project. For additional information, please contact Jennifer Cieslewitz at

Utica Fire Fly

Utica Firefly is a collaborative effort to document central New York stories, to record the people, places, and events that form the fabric of our community. At the same time, we hope to promote and further the art of storytelling. Visit “Firefly Features” and see extra material from Refugees Starting Over Utica. The stories also feature recordings from the Unspoken event.