Lessons from MT- A story about Joe Biden


Despite our small population, and you might say BECAUSE of it, many extraordinary and world changing people have been from Montana.  Who could forget Jeanette Rankin, Gary Cooper,  Dana Carvey, and of course, Evel Knievel all hail from this great state.  But recently, I got to hear a story about one of the most important and game changing Montanans of all- Senator and Ambassador Mike Mansfield.  I had the honor of attending the Mansfield-Metcalf dinner a few weekends ago (thanks Klaus!), and the guest speaker was Vice President Joe Biden.  A force all of his own (see the pic of what happened after I profusely thanked him for standing up for refugees- ahhh, did this really happen?!?!), he gave an amazing and heartfelt speech.  The thing that struck me the most, and what I feel resonates so much with what we stand for at Soft Landing Missoula, was the story he told about the important and life-changing advice he received from Leader Mansfield.  I can’t say it as well as he did so here is a transcript of the story in his own words from his Yale Commencement speech in 2015…

“After only four months in the United States Senate, as a 30-year-old kid, I was walking through the Senate floor to go to a meeting with Majority Leader Mike Mansfield.  And I witnessed another newly elected senator, the extremely conservative Jesse Helms, excoriating Ted Kennedy and Bob Dole for promoting the precursor of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  But I had to see the Leader, so I kept walking.

When I walked into Mansfield’s office, I must have looked as angry as I was.  He was in his late ‘70s, lived to be 100.  And he looked at me, he said, what’s bothering you, Joe?

I said, that guy, Helms, he has no social redeeming value.  He doesn’t care — I really mean it — I was angry.  He doesn’t care about people in need.  He has a disregard for the disabled.

Majority Leader Mansfield then proceeded to tell me that three years earlier, Jesse and Dot Helms, sitting in their living room in early December before Christmas, reading an ad in the Raleigh Observer, the picture of a young man, 14-years-old with braces on his legs up to both hips, saying, all I want is someone to love me and adopt me.  He looked at me and he said, and they adopted him, Joe.

I felt like a fool.  He then went on to say, Joe, it’s always appropriate to question another man’s judgment, but never appropriate to question his motives because you simply don’t know his motives.

It happened early in my career fortunately.  From that moment on, I tried to look past the caricatures of my colleagues and try to see the whole person.”

Yes. This.  We have sooooo much to stand up for these days and of course, STAND UP.  QUESTION. Fight with all you can for what you believe in.  But lets all heed this advice from a statesman from Montana and also LISTEN.  Talk to people who you may not agree with. Listen to people’s stories. Ask them about their lives. See the “whole person”.  Refrain from calling names and placing people in boxes just because that is easiest.  If we are going to rebuild this invaluable and humanitarian program that is refugee resettlement, if we are going to be effective at bridging the great divide in our country, we have to stop assuming motives. We have to stop being “enemies” and go back to being neighbors who are willing to sit down with each other at the same table to talk about differences and arrive at similarities. It is going to be from support from both sides of the aisle, as it previously was for decades, that resettlement thrives again and that America is allowed to renew our ability and honor to provide refugee to the vulnerable and persecuted.  Thank you Vice President Biden and Senator Mansfield for reminding us how truly important this is.



A look at the Rohingya Refugee Crisis

A big thank you to the Gallatin Refugee Connection (GRC) for the information on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis. GRC is a group out of Bozeman who work to create a welcoming environment for refugees. Check out more about them here: www.facebook.com/gallatinrefugeeconnections/

Lifelong Learning: The Rohingya Refugee Crisis

You’ve probably heard about the Rohingya, currently facing persecution in their homeland in Myanmar. Following violent attacks in their home villages in the Myanmar state of Rakhine, half a million Rohingya have fled over the border into Bangladesh, where they have established makeshift refugee camps. Conditions in the camps are poor, and the government of Bangladesh is struggling to accommodate the influx of people and to develop a policy towards the situation.
The Rohingya are ethnically Bengali and also Muslim, making them a minority in majority-Buddhist Myanmar. Most Rohingya lack papers, and are now a stateless people, which complicates their status as refugees and their prospects for resettlement elsewhere. Many do not want to return to Myanmar for fear of further persecution, and an effort to negotiate the return of many in the refugee camps fell through in January of 2018 amid concerns about security within Myanmar if they were to return.
Myanmar has a long history of human rights violations against minorities, including the Karen and Chin, many of whom are Christian, Muslim, or animist. Karen and Chin villages have also been attacked and many have fled to Thailand, but the Rohingya currently face the highest levels of violence. Bangladesh and the UN have both referred to the anti-Rohingya violence as a “genocide.” Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, is facing serious criticism over her unwillingness to take a stance on behalf of the Rohingya.  
For further in-depth reading on the Rohingya, we recommend the following:
Myanmar: Who Are the Rohingya?
Why are the more than one million Rohingya in Myanmar considered the ‘world’s most persecuted minority’?

From NPR News: A Collection of Stories About the Rohingya

How Hatred of Rohingya Was Inflamed by Myanmar’s Democratic Transition
The Rohingya refugee crisis arose from a ‘perfect storm’ of ethnic and religious discrimination and Myanmar’s ongoing transition from decades of military rule, says journalist Francis Wade.

SALAM Celebrate Islam Week April 8th-14th!

Standing Alongside America’s Muslims (SALAM)’s Celebrate Islam Week is happening April 8th-14th!  This meaningful event works to both share Muslim culture and educate Missoulians to create an inclusive and welcoming community!

On Monday April 9th the First Presbyterian Church will host the Welcoming Banquet! Dinner will be served and will include delicious dishes made by local refugees. 

Monday April 9th 5:30-7:30pm at the First Presbyterian Church

Doors will open at 5:00, dinner will be served at 5:30

Please purchase tickets in advance for $15 here: 2018ciw.eventbrite.com

There will be guest speakers and Jamal Rahman will be doing a book signing! 


Fun and informative events will be happening all week long. To find out more go to:  https://www.facebook.com/events/394912940935609/ 

Attend some of these wonderful events and celebrate the diversity in our community! 

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 10.35.00 AM.png

Volunteer Spotlight

Carin is a busy mom of two, but she has found time to support Soft Landing from the beginning. She currently teaches English once a week in our office and is a member of our new Scholarship Committee. She is a natural at engaging English learner’s and making them feel comfortable. We love having her around and are so thankful for the time she has put in to support refugees in Missoula. Thank you Carin!


Revo MT is hosting two community workout fundraisers!

Join Soft Landing Missoula and Revo MT Training Center for two community workouts on February 17 and 24 at 9 am!

Revo MT opened their new training facility in the old Title Boxing space on Kent Ave. They are committed to making a difference in the community. Soft Landing is honored to be featured as their first nonprofit for their community Saturday workouts!

Your minimum $5 donation will get you an awesome hour-long body-weight workout! All proceeds will be donated to Soft Landing Missoula.

Classes are at 9 am on Saturday February 17 and February 24. See you there!

Lifelong Learning Center offers another English Tutor Training

Teaching English Language Learners-Volunteer Training

Teaching English to second language learners involves a great deal more than opening a book and learning words, phrases and grammar.  Learn the characteristics of an English Language Learner, explore teaching approaches and gain practical ideas and practice to build your repertoire. This is a great way to prepare for volunteering to be an in-home English Tutor with Soft Landing Missoula.  Classes are held on Mondays and Wednesday, 6-9pm, March 5-14, 2018.



World Refugee Day Soccer Tournament is June 16!

In just a couple months, we will be having a blast with our Missoula community for our second annual World Refugee Day Soccer Tournament!

This was such a memorable event last year that we couldn’t wait to share this year’s date with you. It’s not too early to mark this date on your calendar!

If you or your business are interested in sponsoring this event, please email Mary at mary@softlandingmissoula or call 493-0504. Sponsorships are available from $100 – $2,000 (or surprise us!) and guarantees your name is listed on our promotion materials, t-shirts, and event banners.

Check out how much fun we had at last year’s event in this story.

We can’t wait to see you on the field in June!


Fair Trade Jewelry Party at The Dram Shop on 2/4!

We are so excited to partner with The Dram Shop and I Thought of You fair trade jewelry for a special pre-Valentine’s Day jewelry party!

I Thought of You is a fair trade, hand made, sustainably sourced jewelry company that works with artisans from all over the globe. A portion of sales from this event will be donated to us here at SLM, so your purchase makes a difference twice!

Treat yourself or a pal, your sweetie or your mama. Support two great organizations and enjoy a drink or two while you’re at it! Valentine’s Day or birthday gift ideas? I think so! Get a sneak peek at the collection at ithoughtofyou.com/cm

For every drink you buy, the Dram Shop will give you a ticket for a raffle with the chance to win a swag basket from the shop and a piece of jewelry from I Thought of You! 

RSVP on our Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/159020401323063/

“Timeless Iraq” lecture is available online!

Thanks to our partners at MCAT, the “Timeless Iraq” lecture can be viewed online at any time by visiting

This lecture is presented by Mushtaq Al-Rashidany in the UC Theatre on November 7, 2017. Mushtaq offers personal experiences, history on the religious conflict in Iraq, and more during his one hour lecture. 

Thanks again to our partners at MCAT for providing a free recording of this event!