By Ron Toland, USAG Ansbach Public AffairsJanuary 14, 2009
ANSBACH, Germany - People took notice when the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach military community came together to show its love and support for its deployed Soldiers.
Consequently, Ansbach earned top honors in community service from a civilian non-profit organization for its unofficial Department of Defense record-breaking largest yellow ribbon formation last May.
The Learning Resource Network, a non-profit that provides recreation programming training and Web-based program sharing, named Ansbach as the winner of its 2008 Best Community Service Award.
"With almost 80 percent of Ansbach Soldiers being deployed, the morale, welfare and recreation program decided to host an event to show community support for the spouses and children of deployed Soldiers, weary from the separation and stress caused by the long deployment," said Bill Draves, LERN's president, during an awards luncheon in San Francisco.
Draves noted that country singer Granger Smith gave a free concert for the event, along with free T-shirts handed out to the first 1,000 attendees as 1,385 people formed a large human yellow ribbon.
Obviously, USAG Ansbach Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation officials are thrilled with the recognition, but are quick to recognize that many people share in the award, said Dan Riley, the garrison FMWR director.
"LERN is a prestigious organization in the field of special events planning; it is an exceptional honor to be recognized in a nationwide competition with public and private sector organizations," he said.
"The beauty of the award is that it honors the great community effort that went into assembling Ansbach's record-breaking yellow ribbon," said Jenny Sullivan, a recreation specialist here and one of the main organizers of the event, which originated with an idea from a spouses focus group.
By being the special events coordinator for the garrison, Sullivan was charged with carrying out the plan.
"The community really embraced the idea once it was presented to them," she said. "But we did not expect the overwhelming numbers. Even our regional staff came and participated. It was all about community camaraderie; something participants will talk about for a long time to come."
"The USAG Ansbach FMWR program has never won this before, and it really puts the whole community on the map," Sullivan said. "[We] received national recognition from a civilian organization. We were the only Army event that placed at all. We won against other major civilian organizations - like colleges and city, state and government recreation programs - who also submitted for the award."
"It shows that we have done something new and innovative as opposed to following trends and not setting them," Sullivan said.