By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN When a soldier is on military deployment, it can take a toll on the family.
Children may be without a parent, and mothers or fathers may have to manage a household alone.
That’s where the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program steps in.
“Beyond the Yellow Ribbon isn’t just for the soldiers,” Delano City Clerk Marlene Kittock said. “It’s a way to help the families they left behind.”
The past few months, various organizations have been working with the Minnesota National Guard to establish a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program in Delano and the surrounding area.
Kittock said she hopes to include the communities of Howard Lake, Independence, Loretto, Montrose, and Watertown, as well as the nearby townships.
“We want to get all these small communities, so we can get a bigger group,” she said.
Buffalo will also be invited to join, if the city doesn’t already have a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program of its own.
The goal of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is to create a comprehensive support network to meet the needs of service members, military families, and employers across the state of Minnesota.
It assists with reintegrating soldiers once they return home, and also helps families with fundamental services while their loved one is away.
“If their washing machine breaks, for example, they can call or email the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon of the Best of 12 Committee, and we’ll have a list of people who can help,” Kittock said, explaining that volunteers might be able to provide free labor, and only charge for parts.
Military families can also contact Beyond the Yellow Ribbon for emergency child care, yard work, various home repairs, or other needs.
Recently, Kittock said a child whose father was deployed accidentally broke the family’s laptop. Local organizations were able to raise money to purchase a new computer for them, so that they can continue to communicate overseas via Skype.
“It’s a really cool program,” Kittock said.
Sometimes, people aren’t aware of specific needs a military family might have, and this gives them an efficient way to provide support.
Open house July 26
A kickoff open house for the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon committee will take place at Delano City Hall (234 2nd St. N.) Tuesday, July 26 at 7 p.m.
Military families, as well as any members of the public who would like to help, are encouraged to attend.
“The National Guard will give a 20-minute presentation to tell the community about Beyond the Yellow Ribbon,” Kittock said, adding that they will share stories of how it has worked in other communities.
The committee has been meeting the last Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Delano Fire Station.
“As it grows, we might move around from city to city,” Kittock said.
For more information, contact Kittock at Delano City Hall, (763) 972-0566; or Jack Lynch at the Delano American Legion, (763) 972-2969.
People who know of a service member or family who needs assistance can contact the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon of the Best of 12 Committee by calling (763) 972-4433 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.