USO Northwest spread holiday cheer to military families on Joint Base Lewis-McChord with Operation: Gingerbread, an event that included building gingerbread houses and judging by the big guy himself, Santa Claus.
A number of families were on hand at the Shali Center to put their architectural skills to the test, with some amazing results! Santa, played by executive director Don Leingang, had his hands full (literally) with some well-crafted contest entries, and spread holiday cheer to all participants.
I need to start this column by saying “Congratulations” to the entire organization.
Collectively, we have just completed one of our most trying but successful years in the 55-year history of the USO Northwest. 2021 saw many highlights at our centers as well as with the Mobile Canteen. Due to COVID, we had to shift our focus to more mobile and virtual events, and our staff and volunteers did so flawlessly.
Besides our two airport centers at Sea-Tac and Portland and our two centers on JBLM, we also sent our Mobile Canteens to NAS Whidbey Island and Fairchild Air Force Base over the summer months to support those stationed there. For 2022, we are hoping to establish an even greater presence at those two bases.
A highlight of 2021 was the Vice Chief and USO Inc. partnership to bring a USO Show to NAS Whidbey Island in support of our military and their families. Additionally, we were able to have in-person Portland Golf, Seattle Golf, and a Seattle Gala and look to repeat those three events in 2022. Finally, a special thank you to Eleanor Bartig, who designated a $250,000 gift in her will to the USO Northwest. Truly a wonderful gift! For those also interested in designating the USO Northwest as a beneficiary in their will, please contact me or see the last paragraph about the USO 1941 Legacy Society.
It is never too late to assist with any of these major fundraisers, whether it is as a volunteer (especially for golf), making a donation, or merely inviting others to attend our events. Contact any staff member and we will put your talents to the test! Thank you all and let’s all work to put COVID behind us in 2022.
Seahawks star Bobby Wagner surprises local military family as "Delta Community Captain"
The Seattle Seahawks and Delta Air Lines, the Official Airline Partner of the team, announced a local military family as the latest Delta Community Captain. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner was on hand to deliver the news this week to the Hanley family, along with Captain David C. Wood – Delta Chief Pilot for Seattle, who is a retired Major General, having served 33 years in the U.S. Army; both active duty and Army National Guard. The family was surprised in person at the Sea-Tac USO Center.
The McChord Field Shali Center recently hosted the Q Battery 5-11th Marines out of Camp Pendleton, CA. This specialized Marine detachment had just concluded a training exercise with the Air Force and had requested housing and meal support from the USO. The Marines brought their own beds and slept comfortably in our “hotel accommodations,” proof that our military can sleep anywhere when their partner is the USO.
Local artist Rikki taught a painting class, several spouses new to JBLM attended, and quickly made friends with other aspiring artists during the most recent Coffee Connections event at Camp Lewis.
Camp Lewis volunteers served hot coffee, hot chocolate, bottled water, and donuts to the shooters and spectators at the JBLM Sporting Clays Competition on Jan. 15. Shooters were thankful USO was there to provide the hot drinks and cheer on the competitors.
USO Camp Lewis volunteers served Christmas Day Lunch to 30 Military Police, EMS and Flight Line Security on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Thanks to Church's Chicken of Lakewood WA for coming in on Christmas morning to cook piping hot, fresh chicken for troops that were serving on Christmas Day.
The DoveLewis Therapy dogs were back working at the Portland International Airport over the holidays. They used the USO Center as their staging area before and after they walk the airport. Limerick and Valor are both regulars at the USO at PDX, interacting with guests and enjoying some treats!
Everything but the Turkey distribution events were a huge hit over the holidays in Salem and Portland. Thank you to our amazing volunteers, Portland-area GEICO agent Steve Ching, Safeway, and The Gary Sinise Foundation for their support of National Guard families in Oregon!
The Shali Center at McChord Field recently honored the base's First Responders with a special "shrimp-fest" lunch. McChord's flight line security forces and firefighters were provided special takeout boxes filled with an assortment of shrimp and other tasty treats.
Fairchild AFB USO volunteers served lunch for those attending the base's first annual Winter Wellness Fair in January. The fair was held to introduce airmen and their families to the various local helping agencies available to them.
Congratulations to Fred Crowder, the USO Northwest Volunteer of the Quarter for 4th Quarter, 2021. Fred is a longtime volunteer for the USO, dating back to June of 2015. A retired Navy Chief with more than 30 years of service, he has volunteered three days per week since starting and has amassed more than 3,000 volunteer hours!
Fred is the lead volunteer at the Portland Center inside Portland International Airport and conducts all new volunteer orientations. For the past few months, he has rewritten the volunteer orientation material, including the volunteer resource and guest resource material. He has also written Tri-Care For Life informational material for retirees. He also takes photos for Families of the Fallen during dignified transfers.
Fred’s passion and commitment to our nation’s service members and their families is amazing to see every day. He embodies what the USO is all about!
The USO Pathfinder Transitions Program supports military spouses and service members at every stage of their military career. From taking your oath, to well into your journey to civilian life. Let’s face it; military families are constantly in transition. Moving, being between PCS’s, leaving friends and family, prepping to move, deployments, training, remote tours, TDY’s, new additions to the family, graduates heading to college, and everything in between! Having support is a beautiful thing. That’s what the USO is all about!
USO Transitions provides professional development services. Your USO Transition Specialist connects you to the resources you need, no matter where you call home. Core areas of support: employment, education, financial readiness, VA benefits, and mentoring. USO Transitions is a focused, tailored experience. Our objective is to provide you with a detailed action plan for the resources you need to obtain your personal and professional goals. Everything we do is free of charge!
Our program is a fantastic fit for spouses who focus on their families and those transitioning out of the military, preparing to pivot and join the civilian workforce. Schedule time on your calendar to dedicate to your future success and register at www.uso.org/transition.
The USO 1941 Legacy Society recognizes those friends of the USO who make a gift through a will, trust or other estate plans to continue the USO's long tradition of connecting service members back to family, home, and country.
The generosity, dedication, and patriotism of our 1941 Legacy Society members allow the USO to continue its mission. We deliver critical programs and services that promote a healthy, resilient, confident, and prepared military as our dedicated service members continue to deploy far from their communities and family.
Among the benefits of membership include:
Exclusive invitations to VIP events
Exclusive invitations to USO educational and programmatic seminars
Recognition on the USO's planned giving website
Subscription to the USO eNewsletter
Special USO Legacy Society pin
You can join by completing the USO 1941 Legacy Society pledge form or mailing a copy of your estate planning paperwork to our address: USO Northwest, 17801 International Blvd., PMB 313, Seattle WA, 98158.