Skip To Content

Highlighting Organizations That are Serving our Greater Rochester Community: Agape Haven of Abundance

Q&A with Julia Oakley, Executive Director, Agape Haven of Abundance

December 2022

“This is too good to be true.” – Anonymous student

These were the words echoed by a student who participated in the Summer Enrichment Program through Agape Haven of Abundance. When the nonprofit opened its doors three years ago, it was to individuals and families who were in desperate need of help with basic necessities, mental health services, and homelessness. Today, Agape and its participants are accomplishing their goals despite challenges beyond their control.

What does Agape Haven of Abundance do?

Agape has been providing humanitarian services to benefit the community for the past three years. The COVID-19 health pandemic accelerated a looming crisis in food insecurity, mental health, and homelessness. Agape was compelled to move with compassion and responded to the emergent needs of the Rochester community through our Hunger Relief Efforts, Community Correction Services, Urban Youth Empowerment/Violence Prevention Initiative, and Work-Based Learning Program.

We are a small-scale, grassroots, community-based non-profit organization serving the disenfranchised population of the City of Rochester. Agape is embedded in the urban community of the Edgerton/Maplewood neighborhood.

How has your organization evolved?

Agape has continued to make progress in our efforts to serve the community. Our numbers are growing and the demand for service in that particular area is increasing as we have outgrown our existing space. We are at a point where it is imperative that we must consider expanding the existing facility to increase our capacity to serve more families.

What kind of impact do you see in the community?

Agape is currently serving a total of 40 youth ages 6-21 through our Urban Youth Empowerment program, 12 high school students through our Work-Based Learning program, 15 young adults through Community Corrections, and 100 families (weekly) through our Hunger Relief Efforts.

Can you share some personal stories?

There is countless testament to share that speaks volume of the impact Agape has on the Rochester community.

Community Outreach: Many of the families that we serve have been displaced from their homes or are in transition looking to secure permanent housing. We recently served a single mother who migrated with her children to the US from Puerto Rico. Agape provided her with furniture for the entire household and connected the youth to a few community programs to assist with job placement and academic support. The family also receives food from the food pantry once a month.

Community Corrections: A single mother was court ordered to complete community service hours and chose our facility. When she completed her community service, she returned and requested to enroll her children in the Summer Enrichment program.

Youth Empowerment: We’ve been serving a particular family for the past two years where the grandmother has full custody of six of her grandchildren. The biological parents of some of the children were victims of a homicide and some of the other biological parents have been recently incarcerated. The children who participate in our Youth Empowerment program are ages 9-18, both male and female. The family receives social emotional support through our services. Counseling sessions are facilitated by a retired social worker, who has committed her time and services to the organization.

Summer Enrichment Program: While on a field trip, one of the participants of the Summer Enrichment program, who is an adolescent male, shared that “this is too good, to be true,” He was so amazed by the wonderful experience he had while participating in the program.

Hunger Relief: An elderly white lady, who is a city resident, shared her appreciation for the food that we serve the community. Much of the food we receive is fresh produce from Wegmans and the Public Market. She shared: “I am learning how to eat healthier because of the variety of fresh produce Agape distributes to the community throughout the week.’

Work-Based Learning: After completing an assigned project, one of the individuals stated, “I am so confident that when I go home, I can replicate the same work at home.”

What has it been like working with ESL?

Establishing a partnership with ESL was essential to help the organization operate more efficiently and sustain our daily operations. This partnership with ESL granted us credibility and acknowledgment in the non-profit sector. Funding support allowed Agape the opportunity to effectively deliver on our mission goals and the flexibility to purchase additional program materials, equipment, and technology. Access to the ESL Equity Grant program allowed us the opportunity to expand program services and extend program services to serve additional families. We have also been able to invite a multidisciplinary team of professionals to join forces with us as we combat crime, reduce health disparity, eradicate intergenerational poverty and provide a well-rounded scope of services to meet the needs of the community.

What else do you think is important for people to know?

Agape is a family-oriented organization that prides itself in the trust we have established and continue to establish with community members. We do not discriminate. We embrace diversity and inclusion, and our doors are always open, all are welcome. We do not turn anyone away.

Is there anything people can do to get involved or help your mission?

There are always opportunities for people, companies, and other organizations to get involved. We welcome the support of community members to assist us with the day-to-day operations. To learn more about us and to contact us, people can visit: