By Lisa R. RhodesDecember 4, 2012
As the holiday season draws near, Queen Waddell, Fort Meade's USO-Metro coordinator, is grateful for the organization's new building.
"I'm really excited," Waddell said at the new center. "We can continue all our good work in the community."
The Fort Meade USO-Metro is scheduled to open its new facility, located at 8612 6th Armored Calvary Road on the corner of Mapes Road, on Wednesday.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in January.
The 2,200-square-foot building is expected to be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
USO-Metro, which will share the facility with Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, moved from 7007A Baker St. in Midway Commons.
"It was a small townhouse and wasn't set up for the type of activities we run," said Pamela Horton, Warrior and Family Center manager for USO-Metro.
Although the former center was donated four years ago by Picerne Military Housing, Horton said there was no parking for USO-Metro's clientele nor was it located on a bus route.
"It was hard to get to," Horton said.
Two years ago the organization started looking for an alternative space on post. The larger facility, which was previously occupied by the Defense Information Systems Agency, was donated by the installation and garrison command.
The facility will open following an inspection by the Directorate of Emergency Services.
The Fort Meade USO-Metro serves all active-duty service members and their family members within the community.
Horton and Waddell said they are excited to be located near the Defense Information School student barracks and the barracks for single Soldiers to reach out to a new clientele.
"We can tap into a new population," Waddell said. "Everyone can get a piece of the USO in a greater capacity."
Horton said the new building will serve as a "community center and drop-in center" where students and single Soldiers can come to "hang out and relax."
In preparation for the USO-Metro, the building was gutted and rebuilt by Harkins Builders, based in Marriottsville, as a pro bono project. DINFOS students and Soldiers painted the exterior.
The interior features freshly painted walls, two new bathrooms, a new heating system, a nine-seat theater room, two offices, wireless computer space, a snack bar and a stoveless kitchen.
The building is furnished with leather couches and wooden tables and chairs.
There is also ample room for the organization's food pantry. In the back of the building, there is space for patio furniture and umbrellas.
Waddell and the organization's 45 volunteers will use the outdoor space to hold its annual barbecue in the spring and for other activities.
Several sponsors, including Computer Sciences Corporation, Northrop Grumman and SAIC, donated funds to cover the cost of the furniture, two televisions and two gaming monitors.
Anthony Perry, a former Army sergeant and USO volunteer, visited the facility on Monday.
"I just wanted to see the new [center] and see how I could help out," said Perry, who has volunteered with the organization for a year. "It looks really good."
USO-Metro is recruiting volunteers to help the organization operate during its new evening and weekend hours.
Editor's note: To volunteer or for more information, call 410-305-0660.