Soft Landing Missoula is bringing a nationwide event to Missoula to celebrate cultural diversity and advocate for refugees and immigrants over the next week; the Welcoming Week will be mostly virtual this year as a COVID-19 precaution.

“It still is the same sort of great opportunity for all in the community to come together and explore Welcoming Week,” Executive Director of Soft Landing Missoula, Mary Poole, said.

Soft Landing kicked off the fourth annual Welcoming Week on Friday, Sept. 11 with Imagine Nation Brewing’s appropriately named “Together” beer, brewed special for this event.

The “Together” brew is named for the event’s purpose, which is to bring together immigrants, refugees, and American-born residents and have everyone feel welcome in their community. Missoula is one of several cities in the country participating in this nationwide event.

There are many events happening during the week that focus on integrating multiple cultures. Welcoming Week will commence nationwide with a live stream event hosted by the Welcoming Week creator, Welcoming America. This stream will include stories of some immigrants and their struggles, music and dancing.

Welcoming Week will be celebrated locally with events such as a soccer shootout on Saturday, Sept. 12, as well as a virtual advocacy day on Wednesday, in which people meet via Facebook to call and write Montana legislatures for more support towards refugees. There also will be a virtual movie night on Thursday followed by an online cooking class on Saturday Sept. 19 to end the Welcoming Week. The cooking class will feature a chef from Afghanistan who will teach the audience how to make the national dish of Afghanistan, Kabuli Palau.

Though this Welcoming Week will look slightly different from previous years due to COVID-19 restrictions, Poole is still excited about the events. While most of the events are now virtual, the schedule for this year still aligns closely with previous year’s events.

The cofounder of Imagine Nation Brewing Fernanda M.B. Krum also agrees with Poole. Krum has partnered with Soft Landing Missoula all four years Welcoming Week has taken place. She is excited for this year as well, despite the changes due to COVID-19. Welcoming everyone in the community is a personal cause to Krum as well, having spent a lot of time overseas.

“I know the challenges [immigrants] face and why they are here,” Krum said. “It is very important to support this effort.”

For every four-pack of the “Together” brew Imagine Nation Brewing sells, the company will donate $1 to Welcoming Week. Last year, the Imagine Nation Brewing was at full capacity during almost the entire evening. Krum hopes that it will still be a success this year.

People can participate in this event by going on the Welcoming Week’s events page and signing up for events individually.