Newsletter 4/12/19


As I was stumbling out of the office today, in a rush to reunite with my kiddos at the end of a busy day, I couldn’t help but smile as I walked past room after room of refugee students hard at work studying with volunteer tutors (Shyla- Our AMAZING practicum student built this program that serves 15+ kiddos twice a week from SCRATCH! She is incredible!).  I had to dodge a few balls from the kiddos who were taking a break from studying to unwind with an impromptu game of “using a youth basketball to play soccer in tight indoor spaces while not trying to knock pictures off of the walls”.  My walk towards the back door then lead me by the father of the first refugee family who arrived to Missoula in August 2016, shepherding a brand new family that arrived just in the last couple weeks as they were looking through items (that had been so so generously donated by our community) for their new apartment.  By the time I high-fived another neighbor, smooched a kiddo good bye and got out the back door, I was no longer just smiling- I was grinning ear-to-ear, absolutely in awe of what we have created here.  

The last couple weeks, we have also been honored to have been a part of several wonderful events with incredible partners. Our timely lecture at UM (live streamedby MCAT) in partnership with Climate Smart Missoula and the JRPC looked at howclimate change is driving human migration.  Over the next 2 days, we saw this topic being covered by a few major news outlets, like here and here (Trendsetters, I know!). We had so much fun, and full bellies, at the Celebrate Islam Week Banquet put on by SALAM that we were so lucky to help sponsor this year. At this event, we got to meet an incredible woman, Asmaa Albukaie. Forced to flee after the kidnapping and subsequent murder of her husband, Asmaa and her two boys were the first Syrian refugees to arrive to Boise after the start of the Syrian civil war. There is so much I could say here about her amazing and inspiring talk, but our biggest take home were the photos she showed of her “American mom and dad” and her “American sisters” who got this single mother through the most trying times of resettling in a new home and truly became her family.  We looked around the room and saw the new mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers holding hands with many of Missoula’s refugee families and again, I KNEW this community was doing something amazing. A huge thanks goes out to the incredible Clem Work, Soft Landing board member, for finding and arranging both of these speakers- no small task!  We love you!

Lastly, you guys showed up in droves for our new food adventure, United We Eat @home this week! One email I received before the pick up time was even over said it best, “We (my 11-year old son and I) just picked up and ate our first United We Eat meals—best meal I’ve had in Missoula in years.  The boy loved it too!  Wow!  Our compliments to the chef.  That was outstanding and I can’t wait for the next one!”.  If you didn’t already get an email in your inbox today with the new menu- please sign up if you don’t want to miss out!

OK!  That’s it from me! I hope you all have lovely weekends and can take advantage of every sliver of sunshine thrown our way.

In love and gratitude,

Mary Poole
ED Soft Landing Missoula

United We Eat

The first week of United We Eat @home was an amazing success! Sign up here if you haven’t already so you don’t miss your chance at an amazing and affordable meal cooked weekly by refugee and immigrant chefs!

We are also in need of volunteers in the kitchen for this new program!  Email if this sounds up your alley and you have availability Tuesdays and Wednesdays!


People, Partners, Programs

Lawrence & Argyle is an apparel company based out of Chicago that celebrates America’s immigrant heritage. They partner with non-profit organizations throughout the year and we are lucky enough to be chosen for this quarter!
If you purchase any of their apparel, 50% of the proceeds will go directly to Soft Landing Missoula through the end of June!  Take a peek around their store to support refugees and immigrants here under the big sky.

Upcoming Events

Bingo! for the Lifelong Learning Center:  English classes (and more!) though the LLC are essential for the success of refugees in Missoula.  On April 17th from 6:30-8:30, come out and have fun while supporting their incredible and life changing work! <<LEARN MORE>>

World View Film Series: Cultures in Harmony- Join us for the third film of this series in partnership with The Roxy! Under African Skies will be playing at 7p on April 22nd. <<LEARN MORE>>

Painting with a Purpose- Painting with a Twist® is proudly sponsoring SLM for their monthly fund raising event on April 30th at 6:30p. <<LEARN MORE>>

A few more photos for your enjoyment!

Thank you to the Rocky Mountain School of Photography and MAC for working with Soft Landing Missoula to help 2 ambitious women learn to use their Camera’s in the RMSP “Mastering Your Camera” course. Learning the art of Photography has been a skill that these women have been excited about since they arrived in Missoula last spring, so thanks for helping make photography a reality for them!

Everyone wants more food photos right?  If this makes you hungry- 
sign up to receive weekly menus for United We Eat @home!

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SLM Newsletter March 20, 2019

Happy first day of SPRING!

OK, I had to get that off my chest first!  I have some really awesome things to announce in this newsletter, but maybe none compare to the sun and melting snow we have been experiencing in the last couple days- I am ready for SPRING and welcome it’s arrival!

We had the privilege of attending two birthdays over the lovely weekend- a Congolese “baby welcoming” party for a 1 mo old and a birthday party for a Syrian kiddo turning 5. It was pretty incredible to celebrate family, birth, and growth in this season of renewal and to know that Missoula was a safe and welcoming place to do so.  Both locations were packed and fun and amazing- full of family, friends, and new communities. As we have seen time and time again, and know from our own lives as well, both of these parties centered around the sharing of food.  In our own way, we are honored to be a part of including programing for Soft Landing Missoula that recognizes and utilizes the simple yet essential idea of a shared table with enough seats for all- even if you have to bring your own folding chair to squeeze in!

So… getting to that announcement then, eh?  Soft Landing is expanding the offerings for our United We Eat program that has brought you Supper Club, holiday cookie sales, and many other opportunities for a seat at the table as well as economic opportunity for refugee chefs!  What? How? When? Sign me up!

Once a week, starting Friday April 5th, you will now be able to pre-order wonderful meals from amazing chefs for enjoying in your own home.  Once a week, you won’t have to worry about dinner but instead can quickly pick up a preordered, prepaid meal that means sharing flavor, tradition and generosity with your family.  This is a pilot program that we are launching through July to test the feasibility of running it year round- fingers crossed because that part is up to you! United We Eat @homewill be hijacking this email list for one month as we share the news while we recruit you to join the UWE @home list. For a direct link to learn more about how this works, see chef bios, and sign up for future emails, go to I apologize in advance for a few extra emails in your inboxes for this month long recruitment period but starting in May, only people on the UWE@home email list will receive emails specific to that program- so hop to it (spring pun intended!)! Seriously, this is not to be missed!

I also need to give a special announcement for a long awaited 5th lecture in our Soft Landing Missoula Presents! lecture series.  There is much more info here and below on this timely and important lecture titled “Refuge in a Changing World: Climate Change, Migration and Homeland Security”that takes place April 1st at 6:30 at the UC Theater. Guest speaker and author Todd Miller will share his stories and experience on this topic to be followed by a panel of local experts. We have some incredible partners- Climate Smart Missoula and the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center- that have helped us tremendously in presenting this lecture and HUGE thanks go to SLM board member extraordinaire, Clem Work, for hours and hours spent making this happen!

Lastly, and kind of on a more somber but incredibly hopeful note following the tragedy at two New Zealand Mosques last week, we want to make sure you know about the upcoming week of events put together byStandingAlongsideAmerica’sMuslims (SALAM) forCelebrate Islam Week. We are honored to be a sponsor of the week’s kick off event on April 8th, the annual banquet and key note speaker, and are in awe of all of the wonderful events happening through out the week. Attendance at these events is a tangible way we can “show up” for Muslims in our community- with open hearts and open ears- to celebrate, learn and honor the beauty and contributions that diverse peoples and religions bring to our community, our country and our world.  Again, lots more info below and the banquet tickets sell out every year so get yours ASAP!

Wow!  You guys still with me?!  So many big things going on and we truly hope you can be a part of it all in this busy and wonderful spring season.

In love and gratitude,

Mary Poole
ED Soft Landing Missoula


United We Eat

Announcing the launch of our new pilot program to bring you a deliciously prepared meal one night a week for enjoying at home! United We Eat @home is here! Go to the website to learn more and sign up!

In lieu of an April Supper Club, we will be sponsoring and attending the opening banquet during SALAM’s Celebrate Islam Week on April 8th. Featuring Keynote Speaker Asmaa Albukaie of Boise, ID (via Syria), and food from all over the Arab world, get your tickets fast- it sells out every year!

People, Partners, Programs

Dear Liz Colantuono- a love letter from Mary Poole…
Where would I be without you?!

What’s Going On?!

>> Come see the Congolese Choir, the Women’s Choir and more perform at a benefit concert on Thursday April 21st from 7-9p for the Florence Project put on by many incredible partners. <<READ MORE

>> Bouncing for Bucks at Flying Squirrel Missoula!  Come have fun with us on Friday April 22 from 5-9p and 1/2 of your admission price will go to Soft Landing Missoula. <<READ MORE

>> Don’t forget to check out all of the incredible upcoming events for Celebrate Islam Week and get your tickets to the delicious opening banquet on April 8th<<READ MORE

>> Soft Landing Missoula Presents! Lecture Series: Refuge in a Changing World- Climate Change, Migration and Homeland Security. Join us and speaker/author Todd Miller as we explore this timely and important topic. See poster below. <<READ MORE


2/28/19 Newsletter


Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs).

Would you know what I meant if I said the term SIV? Many people have never heard of this status for coming to the United States as a refugee. It was created to provide a path to safety for the brave and generous men and women from Iraq and Afghanistan who put their lives on the line to serve along side our own US Military as interpreters and provide an essential lifeline for our soldiers to the communities they were working in. Recently, we sponsored a film for the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival called “The Interpreters”.  This film showed the hardship and danger that Iraqi and Afghan translators face due to working with the US- tens of thousands of who, with their families, are still in very eminent danger. 
In response to the continued slowing down of refugees into America- including SIV’s- we sponsored this film and partnered with Soft Landing Missoula board member and Marine Corps veteran, Clem Work, and a local Missoula veteran who worked along side interpreters in his tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan, Andrew Person, to present an op-ed advocating for SIVs.  As stated in the op-ed, “Nearly 73,000 SIVs have settled in the U.S. in the past 12-plus years (only two in Montana), but delays and red tape are putting applicants in harm’s way.”  We want you to know that there are still tens of thousands of people who qualify for this status, waiting somewhere, hiding somewhere, for America to say thank you and welcome them home.  

Please take a moment to read the rest of thisvery thoughtful op-edand join us in advocating for SIV’s by calling on Congress and the President to prioritize getting these families to safety.

In love and gratitude,

Mary Poole
ED Soft Landing Missoula

March Supper Club!


Join us at Masala for Soft Landing Missoula’s March 10th supper club! This month we are excited to showcase the talents of guest chef Merry Gebray from Eritrea.

Merry’s meals are wonderful, packed with flavor and prepared with heart. There will also be a coffee ceremony following dinner—a daily tradition and staple of Eritrean culture!

Call Masala at (406) 926- 6444 to reserve your seat!

Reserve your spot today- they go QUICKLY! More details here.

Volunteer Spotlight- Chase Gay (aka Mr. Cheese)


Chase volunteers with our Teen Team and has also made numerous trips to Helena to help families with their Green Card applications. He also comes to our office every Thursday to meet with clients, answer phones and help with whatever comes up. One of the refugees was gushing about how nice and helpful Mr. Chase is and accidentally called him Mr. Cheese instead. Now, of course, that is all we can call him. We are so grateful for you, Mr. Cheese! Find out more about this incredible guy here.

Upcoming Events

Flying Squirrel Bounce Night!


Looking for a warm, dry place to spend some quality time having fun with family and friends? Take a break from the cold and come hang with us at Flying Squirrel Missoula for our first Bouncing Bucks Jump Night fundraiser!

On March 22, from 5-9p, 50% of your admission ticket will go to Soft Landing Missoula if you just say you’re with us!

Spread the word, bring your friends and make sure everyone mentions Soft Landing when purchasing admission tickets for us to benefit from this fun evening! We will also be there jumping with a crew of awesome kiddos!

IRC Petition- DUE MARCH 4TH!!

We have so many wonderful partners participating in the 2019 Legislative Session, working together as members of a coalition called MIRA, Montana Immigrant and Refugee Advocates.

As part of the effort to show support for refugees in Montana, on March 8th, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) will be hosting their first legislative briefing in Helena to educate state lawmakers about refugees and their resettlement process. 

Leading up to this day, they also need our help! They will be bringing this petition to Helena and it will be shared with all Montana legislators. Please circulate within your networks and share state wide! To show support for your new refugee neighbors and to tell legislators that you believe in the value of resettling refugees here in Montana, click the link below. Lets help them get hundreds, if not over a thousand signatures! It is an easy and quick way to Stand With Refugees! Link to sign the petition here!


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Soft Landing’s 3rd Annual World Refugee Day Cup is happening June 16th 2019. More info on how to play and party with us coming your way soon. See you there!!!  

October 18, 2018 Newsletter


You do you.

So, the elephant in the room and on everyone’s mind is Missoula’s visitor that is flying in (and out) this evening.  There are a lot of opinions, actions, and in-actions happening around this strange and somewhat confusing event.  We are an organization who strives to be inclusive and a-political, yet we are still staring down a situation in which the very heart and soul of our work is being threatened and systematically dismantled by current politics. What is the appropriate response? Yeah, we don’t really know either.  There are a lot of different things going on today that people can choose from to express what you need to express and I guess the best advice I have heard is- You do you. These words from mentor, visionary, and one of my “sheros”- Betsy Mulligan-Dague of the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center, do a spot on job of summing it up,

“On Thursday both harmony and conflict will co-exist in our town. Wherever you find yourself, and whatever your heart leads you to do, I hope you see it as an opportunity to be the change you want for the world. And may that opportunity lead to many more. Believing in the basic principles of our country means agreeing to the responsibility to take part in it however messy that is.”

For us at Soft Landing, we took a pause and recognized that the work we do every day IS the action that makes our souls feel forward moving in the face of the situation we find ourselves in.  That is how “we do us”. Last night, I had the extreme privilege to tag along with my incredible staff, a seriously awesome intern, and dedicated volunteers to introduce three teenage girls from Africa to an American college campus (UM) and two Montanan mayors, one from Africa (Thanks Wilmot!)! We all sat in awe of these smart and talented young ladies and watched the spark in their eyes for all of the possibilities that await them.


Tomorrow, we will host kiddos on a day off of school to carve pumpkins and partake in the sheer and untethered joy of this silly holiday that is Halloween. Our only goal is just to be a bunch of goofy kids together. Just last week, we participated in a dinner put on by Missoula Federal Credit Union as they hosted the North America Chapter of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and highlighted their work to serve Missoula’s refugee families. This not only included an incredibly generous donation to Soft Landing and the International Rescue Committee Missoula, but also showcased the programing they have built in their own institution and their values of economic inclusion for all. 

So thats it. This is what I mean. “You do you” and our collective actions come together to move that needle. We can, and do, all play a part.

We wish everyone a safe and productive day.

In love and gratitude,

Mary Poole

PS- YES!  We are announcing our October Supper Club today!  Run quick to the phone and good luck!

PPS- I recently had the joy of meeting with Eric Halverson and participating in his podcast, Insight on Impact- a podcast about folks working to make Missoula, Montana a better place. I had a lot of fun talking about Soft Landing with him and am honored to be among the incredible Missoula nonprofit leaders he has featured. Check out Episode 7 and all of the other great episodes online or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes 😉

October Supper Club

Returning to Masala this month, this will be our first dinner featuring a Congolese Chef! 

Where: Masala, 206 W Main St, Missoula, MT 59802

When: Sunday, October 28th.  Doors at 5:30pm and dinner at 6:00pm

How: Reservations required! Call Masala @ (406) 926-6444

More info and the menu available here!

Winter Clothing Drive

Help keep Missoula’s refugee families toasty this year!

We are accepting a wide array of new and lightly used winter items as the days get shorter and colder!  Find out how you can donate items here!


Important opportunity- 60 day comment period!

Proposed changes to broaden the definition of who is “likely to become a public charge,” could harm many children and families of non-resident, documented immigrants. While this, as of now, does not include refugees, we still feel strongly that this is a cruel and unnecessary obstacle placed in front of vulnerable families.  Find out how you can take action here.

Volunteer Opportunities with Partners


Have you ever thought that the setting of one-on one tutoring would be right for you?  These hands on opportunities are wonderful ways to get to know Missoula’s refugee and immigrant communities first hand. There are currently 3 partners looking for English tutors and there are options for both kiddos and adults.  Check out the opportunities here.

Holiday Food Options

Are you catering a party this holiday season and want to “spice it up”?  Would you like to bring a delicious and unique sweet treat to your next shared dinner or event?  Maybe you would even like to turn a cozy evening with close friends into an experience and take a cooking class?!  We have just the option for you this holiday season and beyond!  Check it out and feel free to for more info!