Volunteers from around the country will descend on the Minot area next month when the New York Says Thank You Foundation turns the focus of its Sept. 11 remembrance to the flood-ravaged valley.
From Sept. 5 to 8, the foundation, in partnership with Hope Village and local organizations, will be conducting several events to bring physical and emotional healing to the community. Sept. 11, designated as the National Day of Service, also will be a day of volunteering.
"More help is on its way," said Matt Deighton of Greensburg, Kan., at a news conference in Minot Wednesday. Greensburg is the community where Stars of Hope started in 2007 following a tornado. At a news conference in Minot Wednesday, Deighton described the Stars of Hope mission as helping communities "build, repair dreams and give hope."
The Rev. Paul Krueger, Matt Deighton of Stars of Hope, 5th Bomb Wing director of staff John Dunlap, representing the bomb wing commander, and Minot State University president David Fuller, left to right, participate in a news conference Wednesday announcing activities of the Stars of Hope event in September.
Stars of Hope is a partnership between the New York Says Thank You and Groesbeck Rebuilds America. School children paint colorful, one-foot wooden stars imprinted with a word or message of hope. The stars then are placed in strategic areas of the community.
On Sept. 7, Longfellow Elementary students will be painting wooden Stars of Hope to be placed around the valley. There also will be community painting of stars at Oak Park. A Boy Scout troop from Joplin, Mo., is bringing 100 stars to place with Boy Scouts in the Souris Valley. Missouri State University is sending Joplin residents to place stars as part of their National day of Service. Hope Village has set aside 60 beds for them.
Nationwide, Stars of Hope has planted more than 8,000 stars so far.
Projects have occurred in hurricane ravaged Galveston, Texas, in 2008; tornado stricken Mena, Ark., in 2009; Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Little Sioux, Iowa, in 2009 after multiple tornadoes; Fort Hood, Texas, in 2010 after the shooting of soldiers; and Joplin, following a tornado in 2011.
Along with Stars of Hope events, hundreds of volunteers with New York Says Thank You Foundation will be involved a mini-build of a flooded property on Sept. 5. Details still are being worked out.
The foundation formed seven years ago with a mission to send volunteers from New York City each year on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to help rebuild communities around the country affected by disasters. The mission is a way of commemorating the generosity extended to New Yorkers by Americans in the months following the tragedy associated with the destruction of the World Trade Center. Since then, people aided by the foundation around the country have joined in the volunteer mission to pay it forward. Between 300 to 900 volunteers have participated in each of the annual events to assist communities.
North Dakota volunteers can get involved in the rebuilding by contacting Beth Odahlen at email@example.com.
"Minot, North Dakota, will be the focus as we invite volunteers from all across the state to our community to come and be a part of rebuilding Minot," said the Rev. Paul Krueger with Hope Village. "So much of what we do to help families get back into their homes has to do with volunteers people coming from across the nation but also people right here in Minot."
The Hope Builders program also needs local volunteers on a continuing basis. To sign up, go to (www.hopevillagend.org) and select the link for how to volunteer or call Hope Village at 500-5206.
On Sept. 6, the National 9/11 Flag will arrive in a motorcade to Old Main on the Minot State University campus at 2 p.m. The community is invited to attend and to wear patriotic colors.
Police and fire fighters later will escort the flag up U.S. Highway 83 north of Minot to meet the Bottineau Fire Department.
The National 9/11 Flag is one of the largest American flags to fly above the wreckage at the World Trade Center site. Destroyed in the attack and stitched back together, the flag is a testament to the resilience of the American people.
The flag has been stitched by disaster survivors from soldiers to school children and by the family of Martin Lutheran King and members of Congress. The flag consists of pieces of retired American flags from all 50 states. A piece of the flag that Abraham LIncoln was laid on when he was shot at Ford's Theater was stitched into the fabric.
The goal of the flag tour is to display the historic flag in all the states before putting it on permanent display at the trade center memorial.
The documentary, "New York Says Thank You," will be shown in Ann Nicole Nelson Hall at MSU at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sept. 6. Viewers are asked to bring a food item for the area's food pantries.
Nominated for an Academy Award, the 86-minute film illustrates how Americans pay it forward. Deighton said the movie is both inspiring and healing for those who have been through disasters.
More details about the activities will become available closer to the events.