PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

GROTON — Confirming the town’s support for military personnel and their families, the town signed a Military Community Covenant on June 25, 2009. The mission statement of the Community Covenant recognizes the combined strength of the military, their families, and our community. The main purpose of the Covenant is to provide support on a local level for families of armed forces members who have been deployed.

Initiated by retired Lt. Col. Frank Belitsky, and working in conjunction with Lt. Col. S. Nott who was stationed at Fort Devens at the time, a Covenant agreement for Groton was created in a similar fashion to covenants that had already been signed in several communities around Devens. Frank Belitsky’s concept of the agreement was for military families to have a one-on-one relationship develop with a business, a professional service, or another family who would provide support to the military family.

“I spoke to Nashoba Valley Technical High School Superintendent Dr. Judith Klimkiewicz as an example, and she thought they might be able to provide gift certificates to military families to their school restaurant.”

In 2010, the town of Groton appointed a nine-member Military Community Covenant Task Force. Representing Groton in advocating for military families, the Task Force will implement the Covenant Mission Statement, which formalizes a partnership between Groton and the local military community. Activities primarily consist of coordinating volunteers who wish to support military families in Groton and approaching the business community in town to provide discounts or other gestures of appreciation to military families.

The Military Community Covenant Task Force includes Chairwoman Fran Dillon, Peter Cunningham, Anna Eliot, Steve Webber, Bert Tompkins, John Giger, Patti Hewitt, Karen Riggert, and Margaret Perras. The Task Force mailed out a letter, signed by Belitsky, asking the community of Groton if they would like to pledge some form of assistance.

The selectmen’s office will coordinate fulfillment of needs requests with the beneficiary status priority as follows:

*Active duty, deployed.

*Active duty, not deployed.

*Member of National Guard or Reserves.

Sample services that could be provided as resources, modeled after the Chelmsford Military Covenant Task Force might include:

Professional Services:

Real estate offices (legal work; reduction of closing costs), plumbers, carpenters, day care services, free car inspections, barbershops, caterers, lawn mowing, auto repairs, and legal services are some ideas.

Businesses:

Fuel-oil fiscounts, free or reduced memberships, general discount on items purchased; buy one, get one free, tickets to the Spinners games or other events, and gift certificates.

Volunteer Services:

Baby sitting, transportation to and from appointments, put air in tires or change a flat bicycle or auto tire, lawn mowing, snow removal, replace a hard-to-reach light bulb, fix a running toilet, help assemble children’s swing set, occasional transportation to and from the grocery store, turnover (with spade or rototiller) a small garden, help plant a small flower or vegetable garden, help move furniture or other large items within the home, change the oil in a lawn mower, repair a mailbox that has been damaged or knocked down, tend to a squeaky door, adjust a pneumatic screen or storm-door closer, change a water filter, raking leaves, tutoring, meal services, and holiday meal invitations are some examples.

A business and volunteer database will be created, cataloging resources that will be available to support military families. Professional services, merchant services and volunteer personal services will be listed, with access on the town’s website. The Groton Military Covenant Task Force Committee will identify businesses and residents that can provide services, but the military personnel must do their own due diligence in choosing to use those services. The town will not be liable for quality of service and there won’t be any separate insurance required to offer services. Businesses will be responsible for their own insurance. Any individual that provides personal services to a household will have to go through a Criminal Offender Record Information check.

Additionally, a gift account has been established and it will be managed by the town accountant and the town treasurer. Funds may be used as grants for military families and will be used to help cover the operations of managing the overall process. Checks can be made out to the “Town of Groton” with “Military Covenant” in the memo. Financial contributions as well as offers of service can be mailed to Groton Town Hall, 173 Main Street, Groton, MA 01450, Attn: Patrice Garvin.

For businesses, professionals and residents that would like to provide assistance to our local military families in some capacity, forms are available at Town Hall or you can send your offer, with your name (or a contact name), the name of your business, your address, your phone number, and what services you would like to make available to the above address. The community will be stronger as a result of this outreach.