Volunteering to connect New Bern’s service members to family, home and country

If you’ve heard about the USO of North Carolina working along our state’s coast to support military service members and their families, you’ve probably heard about our efforts at Camp Lejeune and in the heart of Jacksonville. But what many Coastal area residents don’t know, is that we’re working to support our military throughout the entire area, from New Bern to Cherry Point and even for Coast Guard members out at Emerald Isle.

In New Bern, our efforts are largely supported by a relentless volunteer, Frank Bolen, who commits about 40 hours each month to ensuring our kiosk at the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport is staffed and ready to help. Bolen himself wore the uniform as a member of the Army National Guard in New Jersey.

Bolen joined the National Guard right out of college at age 22, and served for six years as a tank commander. Bolen spent 36 years as an entrepreneur and businessman, and after retirement, traveled the country with his wife, Maureen. Eventually, the couple ended up in North Carolina, where they decided to set down roots.

Just one year after settling down in the New Bern area, Frank Bolen learned about the USO of North Carolina and joined our ranks as a volunteer. He started out traveling to our center at Jacksonville, NC, helping military children stay connected with their families through the Smiles Over Miles program, and supporting service members as they left for deployments and trips overseas and return home.

After several years, Frank and his wife, decided to volunteer a little bit closer to home and set their sights on the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport. At the airport, USO of North Carolina volunteers often serve as the ‘first look’ traveling service members get of the local community. They direct service members to the closest bases, help spread the word about our programs and services, and serve as a connecting force between our community and our military.

When asked what his favorite part of volunteering was, Bolen said “When I’m at the airport, it’s just meeting people. I’m a class-a personality and I will smile and say hello to anybody and everybody.”

Some of Frank’s favorite memories as a volunteer stem from when he used to see service members off for long trips away from home. He always had a goal of making our service members smile.

“If just one service member could smile before they got on that bus. That’s all that mattered,” said Bolen.

The USO of North Carolina is seeking passionate individuals, like Frank Bolen, to join our volunteer effort in New Bern and throughout the Coastal Region. You can be the Force Behind the Forces.

If you’d like to volunteer, staffing our New Bern Airport Kiosk, or helping with our other critical services and programs throughout the area, visit https://northcarolina.uso.org/support/volunteer and sign up today.

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