The news spread quickly on Friday when Annette Kuyper sent the email saying Northfield’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon was approved by the state organization to become a Yellow Ribbon Community. For a copy of the full article by the Northfield News, click here.
The email from the director of Military Outreach for the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs was short and sweet.
“It is a pleasure to announce that your action plan has been unanimously approved by the state of Minnesota Yellow Ribbon Action Plan Review Board,” Kuyper said. “The Board was very impressed with the synchronization of effort in your community to support service members, veterans and military families.”
Those on the steering committee and others who have been working tirelessly for months (years for some) to make this a reality were certain the efforts would pay off, but nonetheless, they were happy when the announcement came Friday morning.
“I can’t tell you how good it is to finally know this is a reality,” said Tom Franklin, chaplain for the American Legion and one of the original steering committee members when the effort was first launched a couple of years ago. “While it has been a long time coming it is well worth it.”
For Northfield service members, veterans and military families, confirmation means there will soon be a comprehensive network in place that connects and coordinates agencies, organizations, resources and employers for the purpose of creating access to resources for those in need of them.
Co-steering committee chair Virginia Kaczmarek said that to be recognized and proclaimed a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Community took a lot of work from city officials, staff from the Northfield Police Department, Northfield Hospital, Allina Health, service clubs, the VFW and American Legion, Northfield’s faith-based community, the Chamber of Commerce, the business community and the Northfield School District.
“This was a joint effort and truly a network of Northfield community people from all sectors joining together and putting together a plan that will support our military staff, veterans and military families no matter what their needs might be,” she said on Friday.
Kaczmarek said the organization has taken a three-pronged approach in getting this far. The first, she said, is all the people, from all sectors of the community, working together to put an action plan in place that will support service members, veterans and military families.
The second step, she said, is to celebrate this accomplishment.
“It took a lot of work and no matter what everyone was asked to do in preparation to achieve this, they did not hesitate and stepped up to the plate to provide an action plan that has impressed the state of Minnesota,” she said.
And the third step, and maybe most rewarding, she said, will be to actually have an impact on military service members, their families and veterans.
“No matter what they ask or need support in, we can be there as a community with resources and support from around the state to provide support whenever needed,” Kaczmarek concluded.
To celebrate this historic accomplishment, Northfield Beyond the Yellow Ribbon will host members from the state BTYR organization, state dignitaries and community members in a proclamation ceremony set for Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) in the Northfield Middle School auditorium.
Northfield will become the 272nd Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Community in the state and the last community with a National Guard armory.
Reach Managing Editor Jerry Smith at 645-1136, or follow him on Twitter.com @NewsNorthfield