As the four year anniversary of the founding of Soft Landing Missoula approaches, Director Mary Poole said the organization is preparing to celebrate the nationwide Welcoming Week for the third time.

“Welcoming week is a national series of events that happens every September to celebrate refugees and immigrants and all that they bring to our cities,” said Poole. “We will have nine events that be happening over nine days. Most are focused on cultural exchange which provides the refugees with a chance to share their culture with us. It’s also an advocacy event where people can write letters in support of welcoming refugees to our city.”

Poole said the events will begin on Friday the 13th.

“There will be a kickoff party on Friday the 13th at Imagination Brewing from six to eight,” she said. “They have brewed a special beer just for us which is always a very Missoula thing to do, so that kickoff party is a good place to start.”

Poole said the International Rescue Committee opened an office in Missoula with help from Soft Landing.

“There have been about 75 families that have come to Missoula over the past three years, that’s about 300 individuals, and primarily they’re coming from the Congo. Eritrea, Syria and Iraq,” she said. “The Congolese families have opened the Universal Revivalist Church in Missoula and there was a big celebration with lots of singing and dancing, and they meet every Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at the Public House on Broadway in Missoula.”

Poole said Soft Landing is deeply involved in helping refugee families become a part of the Missoula community.

“We’re doing quite a bit of youth programming, we do after-school tutoring two times a week and do a lot of fun social outings with refugees, as well,” she said. “We took 13 kids to Glacier National Park a couple of weeks ago, which was an amazing experience, and we continue to be so well supported by the community with tons of volunteers. For all of us, it continues to be a really exciting and rewarding time.”