This week, we were beyond excited to honor one of our most dedicated and incredible volunteers, Bonnie Medlin. Bonnie is a graduate student at the University of Montana and won the Outstanding Student Volunteer of the Year Award, an award given to only one student at UM every year.
Bonnie began as one of our very first volunteers with one of the first refugee families to arrive in Missoula. For the last 2 and 1/2 years, she has been a consistent presence as a mentor and friend to a single mother and her 4-year-old daughter. She has guided this family through everything from learning to drive, new jobs, new schools and all aspects of adjusting to life in America. Bonnie and her refugee family have a bond that is unbreakable. This mother and daughter from Eritrea have been separated from everyone they knew and loved in their life. Bonnie has helped them build a new extended family and supported them every step of the way in Missoula and beyond. Bonnie has taken them home with her to Seattle to spend the last two Christmas’ with her own family, helping them start a new tradition that eases the losses of the old.
Bonnie continues to see this family on a weekly basis but has also taken on additional responsibilities as a volunteer. Bonnie is now a regular presence in the Soft Landing office most days of the week. She answers the phone, helps with outreach and fundraising and jumps in whenever she is needed. But most importantly, she is available for one on one help for refugees that walk into the office with a question or need. In the past few months, she has helped dozens of refugees navigate the daily challenges of American life.
Bonnie is a joyful presence and has a generous soul. She always greets people with a smile, puts them at ease and is ready to help. She is dedicated and has grown meaningful relationships with so many refugees who now call Missoula home. She is open and at ease with people from all different cultures and has been a huge asset to Soft Landing Missoula. Thank you so much for everything you do! We love you!!!