East Fort Bliss USO celebrates second anniversary
Sgt. Mark A. Kauffman,
24th Press Camp Headquarters:
The United Service Organizations at East Fort Bliss celebrated its second anniversary in April.
The USO, located on Sergeants Major Blvd., has been a popular attraction for the Soldiers since its grand opening, especially during lunch. The USO filters in more than 350 Soldiers on any given day.
The Soldiers get free snacks, use the Internet and computers, play pool, play Xbox or relax and watch TV.
The USO is a nonprofit organization that functions solely by donations from supportive individuals, local business and corporations. All the food the Soldiers eat, all the computers the Soldiers use and all of the “toys” the Soldiers play with have been donated.
“The land and the building were donated by FirstLight Bank,” said Robert Medrano, the program manager at the USO. “This is the first building in the USO’s history where the building was specifically built for the USO.”
As a bonus, the staff, with friendly smiles and pleasant conversation, welcomes the Soldiers as soon as they walk into the USO.
The staff members are mostly made up of volunteers taking time out of their day to serve and help the Soldiers who come to the USO. The “happy to be there” attitude is contagious throughout every member of the staff.
Jerrilu Mallo, a spouse of a career Soldier, has been volunteering her time at the USO for the past five years. She started volunteering at the USO on Chaffee Road at West Fort Bliss after she lost her husband and found comfort in being an active volunteer for the USO.
“I love volunteering at the USO because I love to talk to young Soldiers and give them advice to where they can go to have some fun,” said Mallo, a long-time resident of El Paso. “I can’t go anywhere without promoting the USO.”
Ruben Hernandez and Manny Escontrias have been volunteering at the USO since its opening day. Both get a great deal of satisfaction by serving food to the Soldiers and getting to know them.
Hernandez recently won this year’s USO Volunteer of the Year award for his hard work and contributions.
“I enjoy coming here and helping out the Soldiers,” said Hernandez.
“It is a way for me to say thank you for serving and that I appreciate what they do,” said Escontrias.
Hernandez, Escontrias and Mallo have been volunteering at the USO for the past couple of years and have a great working relationship with each other.
“We have been working together for a while and we are like a family, we help each other out.” said Mallo. “We work together and it is all for the Soldiers.”
“I love my job and can’t think of a better place to work.” said Medrano. “What job is more honorable than serving Soldiers?”
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