USO Central Florida welcomes volunteers


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USO volunteers and MOAA members sing “America the Beautiful.”

SENIOR LIFE Muffy Berlyn

New and prospective United Service Organizations (USO) volunteers and members of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) recently convened at the Indian River Colony Club in Viera. Out of the approximately 50 attendees for both the MOAA meeting and for the USO presentation, many were elderly men who had served their country, some in numerous conflicts.

Robert Watts, 65, a USO volunteer and MOAA member, was in the Navy for 32 years, from Vietnam through Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Watts said, “All of our members, a lot of us here, even though we are out of the service, we want to continue to serve. We want to make sure our military folks are being taken care of.”

USO Central Florida is currently building a 3,100-square foot welcome center at the Orlando International Airport, opening late this summer. The center will welcome active duty military, retirees and dependents, giving them a place to relax and recharge in the midst of busy travels.

The goal is to create a 400-person volunteer base to help run the center.

Center Manager Annamae Kacsandi was at the club for an orientation presentation and training of new USO volunteers.

“The volunteers are the heart and soul of the USO,” Kacsandi said. “Volunteers are why the USO is so effective today.”

The new USO Welcome Center will have six areas: the lobby area where guests are greeted by volunteers; the family room/lounge containing couches, TVs for watching movies, board games and gaming stations; the office/computer center with email access, printer and fax machine; the quiet room with soft lighting and Lazy Boy recliners around the perimeter for guests to rest in; the “kids’ room” for children to watch movies, play a game, burn off steam; and the kitchen/snack area with glass-fronted refrigerators and freezers, including outlets to plug in devices.

To become a volunteer, go to volunteers.uso.org, create a profile, fill out an application and then attend an orientation. 

For more information, go to usocentralflorida.org, call 407-394-9996 or email annamae@usocentralflorida.org.