The refugee Mayor of Helena Montana
Helena, Montana – a tech consultant celebrates Mayor Wilmot Collins.
There aren’t many visible refugees in my small town. So it was a special pleasure to learn that Wilmot Collins was coming to visit from Helena, Montana, our capital city.
Wilmot Collins is a refugee from Liberia. He was coming to participate in a civic event put on by a local organization called I Am Interchange. I had heard just a little about Wilmot because of his association with USAHello, with which I was also involved. But he lived in Helena, and I had never had the opportunity to meet him.
The event was a symposium was titled “Human Migration & Displacement,” one of a series organized to provoke community discussion around timely issues. Participants were people closely connected to the issue in some way. Wilmot had come to Helena in 1994 as a refugee fleeing civil war in Liberia, so he had a profound personal experience to share.
For me, public discussions like this one are not only enriching for my own understanding of our society, but essential as a basis for well-informed political decisions. I was impressed and grateful that Wilmot was willing to make the 3-hour round trip drive to add his voice to the symposium.
Arriving early to the Interchange venue, I introduced myself to Wilmot, and we found a little time to chat.
I also met his son Bliss, a well-spoken senior at the University of Montana. Later, during the give and take of the discussion, Wilmot freely told his experiences and expressed his opinions. The diversity of perspectives among the participants often led to disagreement, sometimes heated. Wilmot’s contribution was essential to providing a well-rounded and insightful exchange of views.
At that time, Wilmot had already begun his campaign to become mayor of Helena. He knocked tirelessly on doors, spoke at candidate forums, and attended many events. Six months later, he won the election, making national news for his accomplishment. I felt proud to be a Montanan.
Listen to an interview with Wilmot Collins, mayor of Helena, Montana
Steve Durbin is an independent technology consultant, working mostly with nonprofits in Bozeman, Montana. He is a member of the board of USAHello.
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