It’s been a minute,
A month actually, since our last newsletter. Admittedly, it has been really hard for me to sit down and write this one. It’s not for lack of things to say (Ha!) but it’s for a lot of reasons that we are all feeling right now. I feel scattered. It is hard to focus. There is so much coming at us each moment, that it is hard to get simple tasks done while we fumble through much bigger tasks that seem to be swirling around in this pool of uncertainty. We are navigating so much right now- Kiddos in a school environment that still seems to be shifting weekly if not daily, jobs that are dynamic at best and non-existent at worst, rising COVID numbers and concerns for our families and loved ones, policies that continue to threaten our work and the people and planet we love (another decrease in the already DISMAL annual refugee admissions ceiling- are you kidding me?!?!?), AND, did you notice that there is a super important ELECTION going on?!? VOTE!!!
I keep telling myself- Fight the distraction! You should be able to focus. It is so important to be more focused than ever right now. Find your dang focus! It doesn’t help… But then I give in and offer myself space instead. Another week’s breath on getting out the newsletter. An early night to bed when my 3 inboxes are still stuffed full. Another night of Bridge Pizza delivered. Turning off social media- completely. An impromptu soccer match with my (mostly feral by now) son in the rain before dinner. Singing Frozen for the 80th time that day with my (mostly feral by now) daughter while gesturing passionately around the living room. And I look around me at the last month, and I think holy cow, we may be a bit distracted, but so so much great life and so so much important work has gotten done despite it all.
I smile as I realize that some of this lack of focus has just been that we are busy. Busy helping folks navigate the same uncertainty that I am struggling with. Busy working with refugee kiddos to make sure they are getting as much access to education and technology as any other kiddo in Missoula. Busy writing grants for this work, and bringing on new staff for this work. Busy offering delicious food and connection to all of you, while offering much needed income for refugee families. Busy looking at our equity policies and bringing on new board members. Busy with partners and National networks. Busy welcoming new families from Congo, Ethiopia, and Syria (Yes! this is still happening!!! Missoula has had 6 new families arrive in the last couple months). Busy being one of the only organizations/facilities with an actual open door (along with a COVID policy) for refugees right now. And while the uncertainty contributing to my difficulty in feeling focused feels uncomfortable, the great work that comes along with the business actually feels pretty good. I’m in awe every day of our little office and our amazing (growing!) team of staff and volunteers, and I feel so grateful to be here in this moment, with you people, focused or unfocused, doing the work we do.
In love and gratitude (and health!),
P.S.- If you need a stronger message about how incredibly important it is to VOTE- hear this: Votes cast now through November, including National, State, and local, will determine the safety, education, dignity, and resources for our communities in addition to the future of the refugee resettlement program, immigration policy, and rights for immigrants and refugees. Check your registration, make your plan to vote, research what will be on your ballot, and make sure your friends and family to do the same. Be obnoxious about this last part. Volunteer if you can. Luckily, the gals scooping the ice cream for my husband and my first date night in what seems like 100 months were really excited when I asked if they had a plan to vote and they told me that their ballots were already turned in! We may not be seeing too many folks right now, but ask EVERYONE you do see or talk to!
P.P.S- This is an amazing, not to be missed article that brings incredible perspective to getting through this crisis with hope and resilience- just like so many refugees worldwide facing trauma and uncertainty. It helped me through a hard week last week and I hope it is an inspiration for you too.
Welcome (back!) Natalia!
Natalia Boise joined the Soft Landing crew in September as a Montana Campus Compact AmeriCorps Leader. She is coordinating education outreach and development for refugee youth in Missoula. Natalia was one of Soft Landing’s very first interns years ago in our infancy 😉 We are so excited to welcome her back. Read more about the awesome things she will be doing with refugee youth in Missoula!
Welcome (back!) Heather!
At the beginning of October, with the help of the School-aged Child Care Grant for COVID relief through the State of Montana, we were able to bring on Heather Molloy to help further the impact and reach of our youth programming. For years, as both an SLM volunteer and staff with the IRC, she has helped Missoula create a “soft landing” and we are stoked to finally get to be able to get her on our team!
Events and Opportunities
>> Winter Clothing Drive! It is getting COLD folks! Please consider donating gently used, clean, and weatherproof outerwear to keep refugee families warm this winter. Full list of accepted items and how to get them to us HERE >>
>> On Tuesday, October 27th at 12pm MT, join the Hello Neighbor Network Roundtable with grassroots nonprofit leaders, including Mary Poole of Soft Landing Missoula, to learn more about the national climate and hear examples of some of the most innovative programs happening for refugees and immigrants in communities across the country.>>
>> One of the chefs with United We Eat, Zohair Bajwa, is working towards opening his own Pakistani food truck! We thought we would share this opportunity to help support the creation of this new small business because we greedily want to eat his incredible food ALL THE TIME. It’s sooooo good! >>