Soft Landing Missoula wrote -
Soft Landing Missoula is under the fiscal sponsorship of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, a 501(c)3 non-profit. Donations received through this site will go directly to Soft Landing Missoula.
Soft Landing Missoula’s vision is to help Missoula be a welcoming, supportive and informed community that can assist refugees to integrate and thrive.
“If not us, who? If not now, when?”
Last September, the world witnessed a small boy lying lifeless on a beach, a victim of tragic political circumstances that he and his family had no control over. This image was a vivid and distressing reminder of the horror that has created the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. This photo brought a group of concerned Missoulians together to responsibly consider welcoming refugees in Missoula, Montana and to be at least a small part of alleviating suffering for families in turmoil. At the time, Montana and Wyoming were the only two states in the nation without refugee resettlement programs. We recognized a need, identified where we could help, and Soft Landing Missoula (SLM) was born.
REFUGEES IN MISSOULA
SLM began to work tirelessly on a grassroot effort to help open a resettlement office in Missoula. From the start, we focused on providing information on a topic mired in misunderstanding and building a welcoming community. We had productive conversations with countless community leaders, service organizations, faith communities, and individuals. In March, SLM worked with more than 20 partner groups to organize a statewide “Stand Together Montana” rally in support of refugees and immigrants, that drew almost 1,000 people in Missoula alone. Soon after, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) was given permission by the State Department to reopen their office in Missoula. Since August, refugee families have gradually been “coming home” to Missoula, with a plan of approximately 25-30 families to be resettled annually.
WHY SHOULD YOU SUPPORT SOFT LANDING MISSOULA?
We are incredibly proud of what our community has accomplished in just one year, yet we know in many ways the real work has just begun. The IRC is extremely competent at initially helping each refugee access core services such as food, shelter, medical care, employment, and education, but we believe life in Missoula can be much more than the basics. Soft Landing Missoula is focused on building a sustainable effort to engage the community in assisting refugees to integrate and thrive well into the future.
WHAT WILL YOU BE FUNDING?
Your support will help Soft Landing Missoula realize our vision of opening a Community Resource Center to foster connections between refugees and the greater community as well as ensuring the sustainability of our organization with the addition of one full time and one part time staff position. The center will be a place for refugees to develop skills, learn about Missoula, and seek help during what can be a very challenging adjustment period. It will also be a place where Missoulians can come to increase their cultural understanding, participate in events, and volunteer. SLM will partner with a wide range organizations such as veterans groups, recreational clubs, women’s advocates, agricultural associations, etc. to bring refugees and the community together. In addition to helping refugee families connect with existing resources, the center staff and volunteers will address specific needs including:
Volunteer Mentor Teams: Partnering with the IRC to organize and train groups of five volunteers to assist each refugee family with initial integration and hopefully to form supportive relationships that will continue and grow.
Evening English as a Second Language (ESL) Classes: Offering ESL opportunities for those working during daytime hours and unable to access the existing classes.
Transportation Assistance: Includes offering orientation to using the bus, teaching safe walking and biking routes, helping obtain and maintain bikes, prepare for drivers tests etc.
Support for Refugee Students: Exploring partnerships with student groups/after school programs to support refugee students and identifying volunteers and space to provide academic tutoring.
Broad Community Outreach/Education; Continuing and enhancing our extensive outreach efforts to ensure Missoula is a supportive and informed community for refugee families to call home.
Help make the Soft Landing Community Center a reality with a contribution today. In a complicated and overwhelming world, this is something tangible and meaningful that we can make happen together as Missoulians, as Montanans, as Americans, as humans.
Thank you so so much. Our success so far could not have happened without you. We are continually moved and humbled by your support.