Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A $180,000 Deficit Spells Trouble for Mayport USO; the Shortfall Is Attributed to Cutbacks from Jacksonville and the United Way

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A $180,000 Deficit Spells Trouble for Mayport USO; the Shortfall Is Attributed to Cutbacks from Jacksonville and the United Way

Article excerpt

Byline: DREW DIXON

MAYPORT - The future of the Mayport USO center is in question as officials said this week the organization that supports Jacksonville-area military personnel and their families is operating with a $180,000 deficit.

"I think it is very serious," said K.C. McCarthy, executive director of the Greater Jacksonville Area USO. "If the funding continues on the [current] level, we are looking at the possibility of the USO closing its doors in Jacksonville."

McCarthy attributed the USO shortfall Wednesday to contribution cutbacks from Jacksonville and the United Way in the face of budget reductions.

The Mayport USO station, 2560 Mayport Road, is the largest USO station in the Jacksonville area with two others at Jacksonville International Airport and at Jacksonville Naval Station.

All three centers have reduced their hours of operation, McCarthy said. But the threat to Mayport's USO center concerns some nearby top-ranked Navy officers.

"Things are looking pretty grim," said Capt. Aaron Bowman, commanding officer of Mayport Naval Station. "The Mayport center is the biggest one in town and if we start cutting back [more] hours on that, we're going to start losing employees. People will have to go find some place else to call home."

Bowman said the Mayport USO has long been popular among military families who often seek comfort at the center, about 2 miles south of the base's main gate. The USO center has been involved in many community efforts and served as a central Beaches location during the relocation and relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina from the Gulf Coast in 2005.

The Mayport center has a resource center that provides computer access to military families and often provides care packages to service personnel, among many other services. The center recently began hosting "no-dough" dinners on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, offering free dinners to military families. That has grown in popularity to about 200 people attending each dinner. …

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