MARSHALL - It's been a year spent organizing and calling on people to lend a hand for soldiers in the Marshall area.
One year after being named a Yellow Ribbon Community, members of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon steering committee say there have been some big successes, and there's still room to keep improving.
Marshall was officially named a Yellow Ribbon Community during 9/11 remembrances last year. Since then, steering committee members have worked with veterans organizations, ministers, local businesses, area residents and more to help support members of the military and their families.
One big task, said group member Denise Schneekloth, was building up that support network. The goal is to have a centrally-organized group to help servicepeople connect with local resources, she said. Fortunately, Marshall community members stepped up.
"People have been very responsive and receptive. It's just a matter of people needing to know" about the program, she said.
In the past year, Marshall businesses have lent their support to military employment incentives and offered discounts.
Two major events for veterans were held in Marshall - an employment fair, and a broader event covering health care, veterans benefits and other topics. Beyond the Yellow Ribbon was also involved with the National Night Out program in Marshall this year.
Members of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon have also found plenty of ways to show support to members of military, said Sgt. 1st Class Tim Green of the Minnesota National Guard. They could be cooking and serving a meal for members of the local National Guard unit, or helping an area family look after children while their parents are deployed.
Those might seem like little things, Green said, but for military servicepeople and their families, "It's nice to have that support."
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is hoping for another year of growth, Schneekloth said. The steering committee is reviewing its plan of action to see if there are areas that need work.
"We're looking at some other things we can do," she said. The group would like to work more with area schools and health care providers.
Visibility and getting more people involved with the group will always be a goal. There may no longer be a major deployment of National Guard troops from the Marshall area, but many members of the military are still in need of support services, Schneekloth said.
"We would like to remind people that they still have an opportunity to get involved," Schneekloth said. "We'd like (the program) to be more visible." She urged area residents to check out beyondtheyellowribbon.org, or contact her at 507-828-1806.