Unsung Community Heroes
Chapter 1: Calinn Green
Unsung Community Heroes: Doing what’s right in the interests of a community without promise of personal gain or recognition, and often at great personal expense.
It isn’t always easy to give the unsung heroes of this world the recognition they deserve for the work they do for our communities. Rarely asking for help or assistance, they’ll give the last of themselves before ever going back on their word. They understand more than most the meaning of a promise and the investment it takes to really make a difference. They don’t invest themselves lightly. Their time is valuable and to have their attention dedicated to a goal is as close to a guarantee for success as you can get. These heroes keep our communities and networks growing, improving, and moving forward and we all benefit from their efforts whether we know it or not.
This small recognition is for a local Minnesota hero. A veteran. A mom. An entrepreneur. A volunteer. A magic maker.
We (VantagePoint Marketing, LLC.) met Calinn through the amazing Veteran business network, Trust Vets. She was a new member just getting her feet wet within the network, looking to grow her My Legacy Photography business. We were lucky enough to work with her on her website in exchange for her amazing photography skills, and are still pretty sure we got the better part of that deal. Since that first headshot session in Anoka, MN, we’ve watched how many different ways Calinn chooses to dedicate herself to the community and the network around her.
For instance, her incredible dedication to the non-profit organization Flags for Fort Snelling: a non-profit organization that takes on the responsibility of organizing the funds and volunteers necessary to place nearly 200,000 flags in the name of over 200,000 heroes laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery for Memorial Day. At that point, the young organization had been in operation for only two years, placing a flag on just a small fraction of the headstones, limited by funding and organizational help.
But change was on the horizon when a Leadership Team was formed in August 2017– A team dedicated to making 2018 the first time in 35 years every headstone of the cemetery would receive an American flag.
There we were, an incredible group of dedicated individuals gathered around a giant table in the beautiful conference rooms at the Offices of the Mall of America. Each and every person at that table was prepared to commit themselves to this history-making goal, ready to dedicate their time and resources to the cause. The Mall of America was represented by two powerful ladies very experienced in large scale events and promotions. The KARE 11 Team brought their top game to the table, represented by three leaders of their own ready to take on the press and exposure throughout the entire campaign, driven to do whatever it takes to raise the $225,000 needed to make it all happen. The Richfield Bloomington Credit Union dedicated the individual attention of their Vice-President of Marketing. The National Guard and Army Survivor Outreach Services were also at the table, represented by the heroes of their organizations.
The collection of talent and power around that table was incredible, and with that realization, Calinn leaned over to Rocky and whispered, “I’m still not sure what I’m doing here. I’m just one person. I don’t know what I can really bring to this table like these others.”
She didn’t know it yet, but Calinn was one of the most dedicated people in the conference room that day.
She didn’t know it yet, but she would provide more resources than she ever knew she had available.
She didn’t know it yet, but Flags for Fort Snelling wouldn’t have made history without her.
See, while the development of Flags for Fort Snelling’s new operations were kicking into high gear, as was Calinn’s career with Trust Vets. Her involvement with the Veteran network had grown from a local member to an employed promoter of the organization and every company it represented. Everyone was looking for space on her calendar. Her social media promotions were becoming increasingly effective as the world got to know and trust her recommendations. She was building up the network around her and the network was taking notice. She thought she couldn’t bring to the table what the others on the Leadership Team could with their large corporation backings. But all be damned, she built the network of resources around her and found endless win-win ways to align everyone’s best interests and goals.
To be a little more specific, let’s break this up into little mini stories.
Our first Flags for Fort Snelling Fundraiser
Being that we didn’t have many people to lead the Flags for Fort Snelling organization efforts, not a ton of time had gone to raising funds quite yet. As soon as the commitment had been made by the 2017 Leadership Team, Calinn went to work putting together our first Fundraiser of the season. By pairing us up with another local veteran non-profit, the Invisible Wounds Project, she was able to pull together a fantastic and fun event at Route 47 in Fridley, MN to help put our effort on the map! Consisting of a fantastic silent auction with donations from other great patriotic organizations such as Dog Tag Furniture, Lens of Hope Photography, and Protege Fitness, plus three bands and a comedy act, it was exactly the event we needed to jumpstart our season!
Let the Media Begin!
Ready to keep the ball rolling, Calinn teamed up with KARE 11 to coordinate a campaign to communicate to the public our goals and the reasons behind them. She dipped into her network pockets for Veterans excited to share the importance of Memorial Day and the tradition Flags for Fort Snelling was working to rebuild. Watch the video!
KARE 11 Fundraiser Telethon
The fundraising efforts were far from over and it was decided we’d make one giant push by having an entire day dedicated to fundraising for Flags for Fort Snelling. Four donation drop spots were prepped and manned with volunteers: The Mall of America in Bloomington, VantagePoint Marketing and FFFS Headquarters in Anoka, KARE 11 Headquarters in Golden Valley, and RBCU in Bloomington. While manning the KARE 11 location with Veteran and volunteer, Drew Carpenter, Calinn also took the lead on social media to keep the message going all day long. We SURPASSED our fundraising goals in that single day, and the donations kept coming in!
Time for Action: Flag Sorting and Oh, the TOTES.
After months of planning this extraordinary event, the time came to take action. Calinn somehow ended up as Flags for Fort Snelling’s point person when it came to the initial receiving, delivery, and sorting of nearly 200,000 American flags. She called into action fellow Trust Vets Member Patrick Miller Construction for help getting the past years’ flags delivered to the Mall of America. (a much bigger feat than any involved realized until it was too late!)
She then agreed to lead the charge to acquire hundreds of large storage totes for flag sorting, organization and storage. …if you want a story, ask her about the TOTES. Acquiring such a huge quantity in such a short timeframe proved to be nearly impossible. She chased down every avenue, followed-up every lead, and drove her magic truck to pick up as many totes as she could possibly fit in her vehicle and delivered them herself. It may be hard to believe, but the issue of the totes became nearly a full-time issue for weeks and weeks on end, dealing with uncooperative retailers and being the middleman between too many points of contact. Still, day in and day out this Veteran refused to go back on her word and while juggling her own businesses and family made sure FFFS had the supplies she promised.
Minnesota Remembers: Memorial Day Weekend
After nearly eight months of planning, the big weekend finally arrives! Thousands of volunteers meet at the Mall of America for their flag placement assignments and instructions, buy a shirt or two, and hop on a bus with their friends and family. Off to the cemetery to place nearly 200,000 flags, honor the fallen in their own way and time, and return to the mall for more Memorial Day events. The FFFS Leadership were all on duty, and Calinn still didn’t miss a step. She was right there with social media coverage, News interviews, and helping provide onsite directions. Not just one day. But all three days of the Minnesota Remembers event.
After the weekend was said and done, the last flag placed, and every hero laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, three of the FFFS Leaders gather to say THANK YOU to everyone who participated and supported this amazing event.
And the aftermath.
A week after Memorial Day, FFFS returned to the cemetery to collect the flags to sort and store for the next year. Thanks to the weather and a few other logistical conundrums, the sorting of 200,000 wet, unbundled American flags quickly became a huge undertaking. It was all hands on deck, and still, Calinn was right there getting her hands dirty. From sorting the flags herself to organizing the pick-up and storage for hundreds of large storage totes filled to the brim, she stayed dedicated to the needs of our mission. It was another few weeks of working daily on wrapping up the Minnesota Remembers event and all that was involved. It tested everyone’s patience, but this gal stood tall (as short as she may be) and got it done. She literally put the lock on the warehouse door, putting the flags to rest until 2019.
And that’s just the help she gave Flags for Fort Snelling.
Calinn continues to serve her community as a stellar photographer, Vetrepreneur, Mompreneur, and as a representative of Trust Vets dedicated to building up Veteran-owned businesses. She brings her goals with her everywhere she goes. Recently, on a personal trip, she decided to extend the difference she can make to Texas. Calling out for Veteran connections ahead of time, she was able to make incredible new relationships that could extend the Trust Vets network by the thousands in just one week’s time. Her passion for helping the communities around her is very clear.
Unsung Community Heros: Meet Calinn Green
If you see this badass Air Force Veteran online or in person, take a second to let her know you appreciate the difference she makes every day for those around her. The unsung heroes of our communities and networks are truly the ones propelling our world to be a better place for generations to come, and Calinn certainly fits that bill.
Please put her talent to work! If you’re a Veteran-owned business, it’s a win-win to hire this gal to promote your services to the growing network she’s building around her. If you are in need of photos: Headshots, Family Photos, Realty Photos, even Boudoir photography, Calinn is your gal. Need a videographer? Yes, she can take care of you there, too. Let’s show our unsung heroes our appreciation by supporting the businesses and networks they are running WHILE being superheroes for the rest of the community.
Thank you, Calinn, for all you’ve done for this country, our communities, and our Veterans. You’re the first onsite and the last to leave and you make one hell of a great example for those beautiful babies you’re raising, all while tackling this crazy world. We’ve asked a lot of you. And you continue to answer every call.
Unsung Community Heroes: Telling the stories of local heroes making huge differences in the best interests of our communities.