Volunteers needed to help local military families

From left: Angela Steward Randle, Curt Nurenberg from the Roseville Lions Club and Shoreview City Council member Ady Wickstrom at a Nov. 11, 2012 Build a Burger event at the White Bear Lake VFW. Proceeds from the monthly event help support Beyond the Yellow Ribbon sponsored programs to help local military families.

The Suburban Ramsey County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR) Committee is in need of volunteers to help provide support to military families living in the northeast metro.  

The BTYR program was started in Minnesota in 2007 and is coordinated by the Minnesota National Guard. Since its creation over five years ago, 213 cities across the state have become BTYR communities.

The mission of the BTYR program is to “create awareness for the purpose of connecting service members and their families with community support, training, services and resources.”

The program accomplishes these goals, in part, by creating awareness through community campaigns, gathering resources that help support veterans and their families, providing training events to service members and creating opportunities for people to support service members and their families.

The BTYR Committee is run by volunteers who help military members find jobs and job training, housing, child care, access to counseling services, financial education and financial support, among other services.

“People can help in small ways by volunteering a couple of hours a week, or even per month. It does not have to be a huge time commitment,” Shoreview City Councilmember and BTYR Steering Committee Member Ady Wickstrom said. “We would like to see a lot of people doing a little so a few people don’t have to do a lot.”

Wickstrom said people can help in small ways by bringing in desserts to BTYR functions, shoveling a family’s sidewalk and driveway, or by buying a burger at one of the BTYR $5 Build a Burger nights at the White Bear Lake VFW.

Suburban Ramsey County BTYR Volunteer Chair Alison Bibeau said that many members of the military simply appreciate being recognized for their service and take comfort knowing that that there is a support system in place -- spreading awareness in the community and creating a supportive network are BTYR goals.

“There are a lot of members and former members of our military that do not need anything, but they still appreciate being acknowledged for the sacrifices they have made to serve our country,” she said.

Members of the armed forces return home after lengthy deployments over- seas and have missed birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and precious time with their families, Bibeau explained.

 “I grew up in the Vietnam era when people did not receive soldiers coming home well,” Wickstrom said. “Just think about how much they have sacrificed… some have missed the birth of a child and that same child’s first steps. It’s important to recognize their service and do as much as we can locally to support military personnel and their families today.”

If you would like to help support BTYR programs or would like to volunteer, contact Alison Bibeau, volunteer chair of the Ramsey County BTYR Steering Committee at btyrsrc@gmail.com or 651-778-8221.

The Steering Committee holds meetings on the third Wednesday of every month at the Shoreview Community Center at 4580 Victoria St. N. at 7 p.m.

The Build a Burger fundraiser is held on the second Monday of every month at the White Bear Lake VFW at 4496 Lake Ave., from 5-8 p.m.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.

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