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Soucheray: Help them soldier on

If you have driven into Woodbury and seen the sign that designates our city as a "Yellow Ribbon City," you can be proud of that. Beginning in 2008, many cities and communities around Minnesota have organized a network of support systems to help the service men and women, and their families, while they are deployed. Our community joined the effort in 2009 and was awarded its designation on Jan. 5, 2010, by Gov. Pawlenty.

Deciding to join the Yellow Ribbon City Network meant that our city was willing to extend its efforts to the men and women who are involved in the service in some way around the world. According to the website, the initiative is "a collaborative, grass-roots effort between concerned patriotic citizens and their military members/citizen soldiers. Woodbury leaders and volunteers have joined with the Minnesota National Guard to support military families from all branches of the military (Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard)."

The sorts of things that are needed by our citizen/soldiers are the everyday tasks that are necessary to keep a home running smoothly while they are away, and these tasks are filled by volunteers who have the time and the ability to do so. Some of the needed tasks include help with computer and Internet assistance, light inside work, such as help with cleaning or window-washing, or light outside work, such as chopping wood and mowing or raking the lawn. Other needs include light handyman help, such as furnace repair, light carpentry or painting. Still others include babysitting or day care and pet sitting, grooming or walking.

You can see that the needs are common necessities to every household and can become particularly necessary when a person is away from home for any length of time. You can become a volunteer, or request volunteer services, at There you will complete an application requesting help or to offer your services to those in need.

One thing that may be particularly helpful at this time, and a beautiful coming together of those in need with those who have time to offer, is student groups that are required to fulfill service hours for a school project, scout troop or church group. If you help your young person go to the website and look at the opportunities that are listed, along with their abilities, skill levels and time available, you will likely find a service project that will be just right for them or their group.

In fact, it may provide an invitation to you to give a few hours on a Saturday this fall, helping to rake leaves, chopping wood and cleaning out the garage of a local service person. After you have completed the service, you could head back to your house for a chili dinner and a time to discuss how the experience impacted your child and his or her friends.

All in all, it seems that this is one intent of the Yellow Ribbon City Network, as its website states is that, "the Yellow Ribbon Network helps connect schools, local units of government, law enforcement, social services, churches, civic and volunteer organizations for the special needs of a military family during the deployment cycle."

The next meeting of the Yellow Ribbon Network is Thursday, Sept. 13, at 7-8 City Hall. You will find more information at

Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist