YES Grants in Action: Networking for Neighbors Supports Local Military Families and Veterans

Published: January 17, 2024
Marissa Schirmer YES Grants

Showing appreciation for local, active military families and veterans is the goal of Networking for Neighbors, created by Marissa Schirmer of Hendricks County. Marissa is a 2023 recipient of an Indiana 4‑H Foundation YES Grant and a student at Ball State University.

Marissa and her friends partnered with Operation Gratitude, and Ball State Honors Association for Community Engagement (HACE) to produce 215 paracord lanyards as gifts for active duty military and veterans.

Marissa explained that the lanyards have a practical purpose in emergency situations. “They have been used to hang an IV bag from a tree, secure camouflage nets to trees or vehicles, extend a security strap or rope to reach and haul heavy objects, create a harness to extract an injured person from a bad location, or make a sling or splint. Others have cut the paracord, sewing thread to repair gear, emergency sutures to close a wound, fishing line, or even as trip line.”

During July 4th celebrations, Networking for Neighbors delivered a potted plant, small flag, and thank you card to 20 local veterans and military families.

In December, Marissa and her friends worked to support the Indiana Blue Star program. They were able to donate 12 card games and first aid kits to local military families, as well as provide support during “The Spirit of Christmas” event.

“Marissa was always ready to handle whatever we needed,” said Ralph “Zoc” Zoccolillo, Chairman of the Indiana Blue Star Program. “We so appreciated her enthusiasm to help with these events. Her time and work ethic were invaluable.”

Marissa said, “I learned that I have the power to make a change, even if it’s only small… I really understand now that building relationships is most important, not just within my own community.”

To learn more about the YES Grants program and to apply for funding, visit