Each year, the Bob Hope USO at John Wayne Airport (JWA) serves more than 21,000 military members traveling through the Airport. The friendly hospitality they receive is all due to the many wonderful volunteers who make sure our service personnel receive a warm and caring welcome.
Approximately 100 United Service Organizations (USO) volunteers serve at Bob Hope USO at JWA, keeping doors open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., 365 days a year. More than 600 traveling active and reserve military personnel and their families make their way through the Center’s doors each month, where they can enjoy a fully stocked canteen, movies and video games, travel assistance and Wi-Fi at no cost.
Volunteers who are passionate about helping at the USO include veterans, parents of military service personnel, and anyone who has been touched by those who serve in our Armed Services. “It is such a privilege to do what we do here,” said Maureen Ahrens, manager of the Bob Hope USO at JWA. “When one person serves in the military, the whole family serves.”
The Bob Hope USO at JWA serves a smaller number of military members than other USO centers, which allows volunteers more personal one-on-one time with each visitor. Volunteers recently enjoyed a special moment with an Army soldier who, while checking his email at the Center, found out he had been accepted into Army Ranger School. “We were the first to congratulate him and wish him well,” Ahrens said. “It was a fun and positive experience for us all.”
An additional 22,280 troops and families have been served through USO outreach events held throughout Orange County, including an old-fashioned carnival, Family Day BBQs, and the recent Los Angeles Chargers Family Fun Day. The Center works to involve local Orange County organizations, providing avenues to support local military with food donations, resources and time, and helps with family events that provide holiday meals, assists with baby showers, connects kids with their deployed parents, and provides toys and visits from Santa during the holidays.
The USO Center at JWA officially opened in November, 2014, and is located in Thomas F. Riley Terminal B, on the Arrival (lower) Level next to Baggage Carousel 4. Under an agreement approved by the Board of Supervisors in April 2014, the County of Orange is leasing the space to the Bob Hope USO for $1 per year. Construction, computers, equipment, furniture and other provisions for the Bob Hope USO at John Wayne Airport were made possible by sponsors who provided project support, pro-bono services, donations and grants.
For more than 77 years, the USO has been the nation’s leading organization to serve the men and women in the U.S. military, and their families, throughout their time in uniform. From the moment they join, through their assignments and deployments, and as they transition back to their communities, the USO is always by their side. The mission of the USO is to strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country.
Bob Hope USO relies entirely on contributions from citizens and philanthropic corporations and organizations. It is the only non-profit in Orange County exclusively serving active military.
As we honor our servicemen and women during Military Appreciation Month, we are reminded that we have the privilege to live in the “Home of the Free,” because of the brave. Thank you to all branches of our military, and the families who support them, for their service to our country, and we are grateful to the USO volunteers for serving those who serve!
For more information on the Bob Hope USO Center at John Wayne Airport feel free to visit http://bobhopeuso.org/our-locations/orange-county/