SLM Newsletter 12/9/20

Grab your coffee (or beer!)- it’s a long one folks, but the last newsletter of the year….

For a couple years now, Soft Landing Missoula has had a guiding document for our staff and board based on 6 values we have identified as central to our work – Diversity, Community, Dialogue, Responsiveness, Partnership, and Leadership (I will put them all in a little box below with the full “definitions” for those interested.) These values are how we introduce SLM to new board members, what we think of as we are working through new programming, a part of how we evaluate our ED (yikes! That’s me!) and programatic impact, and a light that we return to in times that are hard. They themselves are put under review each year to make sure that they are consistent with the way we strive to interact with our world, especially as our own awareness of the complexities refugees and immigrants face continues grow.

The last 6 months, I have had the fortune of having to look over these values many times and it has been interesting to look at something created outside of a year of crisis, and see how we were still able to not only stick by these values, but to realize how much these values carried us through this time and truly helped us to adapt and thrive. While it might have been a tie between Partnership and Responsiveness as “Value of the Year”, we recently had a little conversation about Responsiveness that I wanted to share some thoughts with you about (wow, longest lead-up EVER)…

Responsiveness has been our great equalizer, and our Community Resource Center has been this value’s home. As a small, community based nonprofit, we have the freedom to be Responsive to individual needs in a way that is unique and essential.

We don’t have a form or a “checklist” clients have to fill out to access our services. We don’t have a time limit of services, or what you can or can’t walk into our office with a question about (although, this is also where awesome Partnerships come in because we don’t and can’t do it all, but work with other amazing folks to refer when appropriate). We don’t hold grants that restrict our services. While we are gaining more structure each year as we learn more, evaluate impact, and create long-term client-driven programming, such as our Youth Programming and United We Eat, we still hold a lot of space for the nebulous beast that is our Community Resource Center 😉

At times, Responsiveness is overwhelming and a constant source of learning and change. But what we have come to see, and what was laid bare by COVID, is that our freedom to respond to individual needs, challenges, and triumphs- with all of our heart and all of our grit- is many times what begins to level the playing field for access to services, opportunities, social and cultural needs, food security, technology … the list goes on… This freedom helps the refugee and immigrant families we have the honor to work with on their way from survive to THRIVE.

Truthfully, you are the ones who gift us with this freedom. The majority of our funding comes from your individual donations, and so so many hours of our services come from your time with us as volunteers. You allow our work to be flexible, to be creative, to be relevant, to be joyful, and to move toward equity for the families we work with. THANK YOU!

A few weeks ago we shared a story with you about our friend, Esther, and how she has been coming to our Community Resource Center for support in reaching her goals. We also invited you to support Soft Landing’s work. This year has been crazy and challenging for all of us in so many ways. If you aren’t in a position to give, that is okay. Perhaps you already donated or maybe you are equally generous with your time as one of our rockstar volunteers.

If you are in a position to do so, now is the time to contribute what you can to help us start strong in 2021. End of Year giving is one of our largest single sources of income for the whole year, and one of the only times we make a general ask to you. These last few weeks of the year are vital in helping us sustain the level of services and Responsiveness we can provide for refugee and immigrant families that have found a home in Missoula. Our Community Resource Center continues to safely remain open at this time- one of the very few places refugee families can access during COVID that is not fully remote.

Our goal is to raise $50,000 in “Responsive” general operating funds and you have already brought us more than half way. Thank you! We have $20,000 to go by December 31st and I know you can get us the rest of the way there. If you have been waiting to donate, or just haven’t gotten around to it yet, here is a direct link to our online platform, or you are welcome to send or drop by a check!

While it is so easy to want a year like this to fade away as quickly as possible, we can’t deny that we have learned so much and have grown in ways we just wouldn’t have if not challenged by the uniqueness (thankfully) of a pandemic. With your love and support, we are excited to take these new skills and tried and true values into an incredibly hopeful 2021.

In love and gratitude,

Mary Poole
ED Soft landing Missoula

PS: Haven’t heard enough from us yet (geez, I’m wordy!)? Please join us on December 16th for our 2020 Community Zoom to review 2020, look toward 2021, and celebrate a bit too. There will even be prizes!!!! Find out more and get the Zoom link HERE.


We are excited to offer a little something new to stuff your stockings with —our Soft Landing 7 Spice Blend! Hand blended 7 Spice mix to adds a middle eastern flair to any dish and is hands-down the most widely use spice in our United We Eat kitchen. While we take a small break for the holidays and the month of January, you can use 7 spice in your own kitchen to season meats, sauces and stews- or give it as a gift to the “chefs” in your life!

Also, to save costs and reduce our impact on the planet, UWE is looking for donations of clean, lightly used paper bags- preferably with handles. You are welcome to drop bags off at the Soft Landing office M-F,10-2. Thank you!


Zoom “party” anyone? OK, there is really no substitute for our annual End of Year and Volunteer Appreciation party, but we hope this can be a close second. It has been such an unusual year, and your support has meant more than ever. Join us to reflect on 2020 and get excited about 2021! We will introduce staff (there are a few new folks!), share some stories of our 2020 work, honor outgoing board members and celebrate incoming board members (5 new! Whew!), thank and recognize volunteers, and provide a look into 2021.

Along the way, there will be some fun and prizes! Join for all or part and feel free to “bring” a friend or two!


Soft Landing staff, volunteers, and United We Eat chefs got into the holiday spirit last week while volunteering to help prepare a hot meal with Hope Rescue Mission for those experiencing homelessness this holiday season. We are so grateful for their work and we were honored to play our small part in giving back to those in need.

As promised, a more complete version of SLM’s Values Statement:

We believe that a more diverse Missoula is a richer Missoula and that everyone can benefit from an environment where varying ideas, cultures, and experiences are shared and celebrated.

We believe that interpersonal connections are critical to creating a home. Therefore, we aim to provide a welcoming atmosphere and facilitate meaningful relationships to foster a healthy community.

We believe that open communication and mutual understanding create a safe and welcoming home. We are dedicated to building bridges and welcoming dialogue as a way to create an inclusive experience for all.

We believe in thoughtfully responding to needs as they arise.

We believe in collaboratively supporting our community. We work with partners to create thoughtful and creative solutions that contribute to a greater good for all.

We believe that the lessons we are learning in Missoula can inspire positive action and guide similar conversations and practices across America. Working to address needs facing refugees, we can be a part of larger state, national, and global solutions.