2020 Impact COMO Award Winner

Heather Lobough

Most Impactful Volunteer

City of Refuge

Honorable Mentions

Laura Nauser, Heart of Missouri CASA
Greg Wack, TRYPS

Heather Lobough’s journey began after she moved to Columbia four years ago and saw a social media post from Sherryl Laws, asking for blankets, gloves, coats, etc. Shortly after she dropped off her extra blankets and coats, she was introduced to City of Refuge, where she started volunteering with African refugees, specifically Eritrean refugees.

“I started building a relationship, being their friend, which hardly seems like a job or work,” Heather explains. Her role developed into being more of a coach as she helped refugees adjust to life in America. From being a listening ear for them to helping them complete a job application, Heather is there for these refugees for any support they might need.

She teaches them English, drives them to appointments, and even teaches them how to work a thermostat. But to her, the most cherished duty is taking the opportunity to sit with them, drink their coffee (often in ceremonial style), try their favorite dishes, and build a community.

The staff at City of Refuge, particularly Sherryl Laws and Linda Stempel, are all people that motivate Heather to serve selflessly. And City of Refuge’s supply materials, resources, supplies, and necessities allow her to serve effortlessly.

“We all have gifts to give,” Heather says. “Acts of service are my gift to give.” Lending a hand provides Heather with the opportunity to alleviate stress for those in need. And serving the Eritrean community, specifically, motivates her even more to give back. “Their love for life is genuine and sincere. Them striving for a better life keeps me moving forward,” she says. “They exemplify what true faith, real community, and real friendship looks like.”