$500,000 needed to fund new Sea-Tac military center

SEATTLE - The USO center at Sea-Tac Airport say they've outgrown their operation. They already have a new space nearly double the size, but they still need to raise over half a million dollars to get the project started.

"I like to say we're the 911 of the military here in the Puget Sound area," Don Leingang with USO Northwest says.

The current space occupied by USO Northwest is 3,400 square feet, but Leingang says they're busting at the seams.

It's no surprise, as USO Northwest serves over 125,000 military members each year, and is the busiest USO Center in the country.

"Military members or there families will actually be lined up down the hallway," Leingang adds.

It gets so crowded, people often wind up just outside the doors, sleeping on the floor.

But the organization has been given hope. The Port of Seattle Commissioners approved a brand new, 7,000 square foot space just down the hall, and double the size.

"I grew up in a military family and I know firsthand the value of the USO," said Commission President Tom Albro. "The Port is proud to partner with USO and in a small way give back to those who sacrifice so much for their country."

The new center would allow the organization to improve their current programs, and enhance food services, sleeping accommodations, showering facilities, and separate family areas.

With dozens of volunteers and the passion to serve, all USO Northwest needs is the cash to see it through.

"Right now we're raising 1.2 million dollars to build out the empty space in here," says Bill Baker with USO Northwest.

Since it's inception, the USO has been funded by civilians and corporate donors, and thanks to Boeing Employee's Community Fund, The Norcliffe Foundation and USONW's Board of Directors, half of the funds needed to complete construction of the new Sea-Tac center have been raised.

"We should be able to take care of our military folks as they deploy back and forth," Leingang says. "We can't very well now, but we will when that center is built."

To the men and women serving our country, the ones who've traveled around the world and back, USO Northwest is a welcoming homebase.

The organization needs to raise the remaining funds within the next 3 months to have the center completed by summer of 2014.

To help support funding for the new center, donate online, or call USO Northwest Office Manager Shannon McManus at (206) 246-1908 extension 3.