Organization needs help keeping USO open 7 days a week

An organization that provides a place for soldiers at Camp Atterbury to relax when they are off duty and gives them ways to keep in touch with their families needs volunteers.

Help is needed to make sure the USO of Indiana center at Camp Atterbury, a military installation in southern Johnson County, can stay open for soldiers seven days a week.

The USO is looking for volunteers to staff its center in Edinburgh. The center serves as a place for soldiers to relax when off duty, with amenities such as game tables, a library, computers, snacks and TVs. The center also provides ways for soldiers to keep in touch with family while they are serving.

“Our mission is to be the home away from home,” said Jaclyn Bolin, the center’s manager. “We are one big family at the USO. We are all close and are an extended family for the service members.”

The center, which is open seven days a week, is run almost entirely by volunteers as Bolin is the only paid employee. Ideally, the center will have two hosts available for each of the 28, four- to five-hour shifts, she said.

However, a shortage of volunteers has left them scrambling at times in recent weeks to make sure the center stays staffed, Bolin said.

The hosts are responsible for greeting the soldiers as they come in, answering questions, keeping the center clean and socializing with them, she said.

“It’s all about hospitality,” she said. “We are a home away from home, kind of like if you have guests at your house, like for Thanksgiving or a holiday.”

The connections that the hosts are able to make with the soldiers are incredibly important, Bolin said.

“The volunteers are the heartbeat of the program. They are the ones who put a smile on the service members face and treat them specially,” she said.

Volunteers needed

People interested in volunteering at the USO of Indiana center at Camp Atterbury can apply online.

Visit indiana.uso.org/support/volunteer

Questions: Call 812-890-2195