Military families now have a place to relax and socialize on the Rock Island Arsenal.|
The USO celebrated its expanded facility Thursday with a ribbon cutting attended by a standing-room-only crowd of about 100 people.
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, said she was honored to speak at the event, considering the new facility is only the USO in Illinois outside of the Chicago area, where there are five.
"That's why this USO is so important," she said. "What will make this successful is if we come together and continue the kind of giving that made this possible."
The 2,000-square-foot area feels like a comfortable apartment with couches, chairs, a television, books and a kitchen with refreshments.The $62,000 renovation included new paint, carpeting and fire alarm system.
A foosball table sits in the corner, and a small room off to the side holds three computers.On the wall hangs an intricate handmade quilt with the USO logo, donated by Terry Austin.Furniture was donated by JC Penney, and Olde Towne Bakery has offered to donate baked goods each Wednesday.
Families can use DVD players, borrow books or use the space for meetings, said Jackie Inman, Rock Island center director.
"There is a great military community here," said Alison Ruble, President/CEO of USO of Illinois. "We realize the value of getting the USO into military life, and it was a chance to partner with Army Community Service. There are so many local events we can partner with."
The USO shares common office space with Army Community Service in Building 110 on the Arsenal.
ACS provides social services to military and civilian employees of the Arsenal.ACS Director Tere Pouch said she was looking forward to a working partnership with the USO.
"I couldn't have asked for a better situation," she said.
ACS co-division chief Jan Saito said the USO space will be great for military kids to spend time or for use as a meeting space.
"This is an exciting day for us as an organization," said Ms. Ruble. "Our mission is a labor in love. I'm so happy to support military families and all they do. We're at the front door of the military every day. We want this to be a home away from home."
The USO was established in 1941 to enhance the quality of life for American troops and their families. The nonprofit organization relies on private donations.