Supporter Stories: Mike Stark (1/2)

"(Working with the family), it made some of the difficulties and hardships that these families are going through, whether they are here or in Europe or Africa, wherever they are, very real and very tangible. A lot of times when I think of a refugee or read a story in the newspaper, or see something on television about these people, migrants or refugees, whether their boat is capsizing while crossing the Mediterranean, or any of them dying, or they are stuck in a refugee camp for ten years, I have a concept of what that struggle is like and I can sympathize with it. But it’s not realistic. So helping these people in their day to day lives, whether it’s giving them a ride to church, or sitting down with them for a cup of coffee or whatever it is, it’s so normal that it’s… that normalcy is very impactful in a way. 

"It really drives it home because they are real people and they have real needs. It’s not that they are in immediate danger, but they have lives, dreams, and wishes, whether its helping them find a job or get to the dentist, whatever it is." 

- Mike Stark, Investment Advisor at S.G. Long in Missoula, Montana, and Mentor Leader at IRC

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Photo and interview by @elliott_natz.

For the next 12 weeks I will be posting images alongside portions of interviews I've conducted. The subjects of the photos are volunteers involved in groups helping refugees from around the world find a safe and fulfilling life in Missoula, MT. This project aims to show how involved our community is in creating a welcoming city, and how the lives of volunteers and community members have been positively impacted by inviting diverse new neighbors into our lives.

Please join us to get to know some of the people in Missoula that are helping make the lives of new people to our community a little easier.