ELIZABETHTOWN — The Elizabethtown Rotary Club was treated to a presentation by Renee Lane, director of the Ft. Bragg Center USO, on Wednesday. She was joined by Julie Meloni.
Lane was introduced to the group by Rotarian Eddie Madden, who explained to the group how he came to meet Lane.
“Some time ago Dr. (William) Findt attended an exercise on Ft. Bragg and met Gen. Joseph Anderson,” said Madden.
He continued by saying Findt had invited Gen. Anderson to speak to the Boy Scouts about the importance of character. Madden said that it was at that event that he met Anderson and, along with Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell, talked to Gen. Anderson about a partnership with the base.
“In a period of three weeks Gen. Anderson made two visits to Elizabethtown,” said Madden.
He added during one of those visits, Madden mentioned the 8K Wounded Warrior Run.
“Gen. Anderson said ‘I need to hook you up with Renee Lane at the USO,’” said Madden.
Lane opened her remarks by saying the USO of North Carolina’s mission is to “lift the spirits of the troops and their families.”
“It means a lot for these troops,” said Lane of the USO.
She said the USO has been in existence since 1941. In the past year, Lane added the USO has served 575,000 troops, active duty, National Guard, Reserve, and retirees.
“USO of North Carolina is a charter, so whatever we raise here, stays here,” said Lane.
She told the group that USO receives no funding from the state or federal government. Lane said the funding the USO receives comes from businesses, organizations and individuals.
Lane said the services provided to the troops by the USO staff and volunteers are completely free.
USO of North Carolina has 24 employees and more than 800 volunteers across the state poised to troops and their families, according to Lane. She told the group and USO of North Carolina has earned a four star charity rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold Guide Start.
Lane told the group and 92 cents of every dollar donated goes back into the USO centers.
The USO Centers in North Carolina are located at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, Fayetteville Airport, Fort Bragg, Jacksonville/Camp Lejeune, Raleigh/Durham International Airport and a mobile unit.
Lane said that USO 0f North Carolina provides programming for the troops as well as their family. She said they offer such programming as care packages and rack packs for troops, support of the injured and wounded, birthday cupcakes for soldiers, phone cards, United through Reading programs, troop events, a Kidz Korner, emergency travel assistance, programs that the troops leaving the military service to prepare to transition to civilian life and programs for families to help them to adjust to having their soldier back home after a deployment.
For information about USO of North Carolina, visit them on the web at www.uso-nc.org.
Erin Smith can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.