Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - It’s been nearly seven years since Soft Landing Missoula was founded with the purpose of assisting refugees from all over the world in finding new homes in western Montana.

On Monday, Soft Landing founder and Executive Director Mary Poole spoke at the monthly City Club along with Sarah Howerton, Development Manager with the International Rescue Committee.

Soft Landing Missoula in its Seventh Year

KGVO News caught up with Poole after the event and provided the story of how Soft Landing got started in Missoula. She said the effort began after refugees from Syria and the death of a three-year-old child made worldwide.

“We invited the International Rescue Committee, a resettlement agency, to open their office here in order to provide a path for refugees to once again come to Missoula,” said Poole, and so that work has been going incredibly well. For the last six years, we've been able to welcome over 500 individuals to Missoula through that partnership and many other partners, and currently, we have little over 80 families that we work with from all sorts of places, and all sorts of experiences.”

KGVO News referenced the fact that the Missoula Alliance Church has become a partner in helping to welcome many Congolese refugees who have resettled in Missoula.

“I love all that we get to learn and all the new experiences we as Missoulians get to have with them,” she said. “Just the music and the food and the celebration and community that a lot of these families brought here are really special and that church has been a huge part of that, and so their work with those families is absolutely notable.”

Soft Landing Helped to Find Homes for Afghan Refugees

One of the recent efforts of Soft Landing dealt with war refugees from Afghanistan after the U.S. military pulled out suddenly just after President Biden took office.

“It's been over a year now since the fall of Kabul,” she said. “In the immediate time after that, over 76,000 Afghan individuals sought safety in the U.S. and Missoula was able to welcome 108 Afghan individuals through that program, and so they are the most recent group of folks that we've worked with.”

With housing in such tight supply, Poole said various agencies have worked overtime to help provide housing for the incoming refugees.

Housing Agencies Assist with Finding Homes

“That's a key part of the programming through the International Rescue Committee, the resettlement agency that helps welcome people to Missoula,” she said. “They have an incredible housing director and an incredible housing team who work really closely with private landlords, landlord management companies, and they've just built a really amazing network of folks for housing purposes.”

Click here to find out more about Soft Landing Missoula.

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