Wholeheartedly Support USO San Diego.
For many Americans not closely associated with the military, the USO - or United Service Organizations - may seem a thing of the past, indelibly linked with Bob Hope’s televised shows from overseas. Not so, say San Diego philanthropists Hélène and George Gould, both ardent supporters of the men and women in America’s Armed Forces. “USO San Diego continues to provide much needed services to those who are on the front line for the security of this country,” says Hélène. “George and I have made it our focus to take care of the people who take care of us.”
The couple’s loyalty recently moved them to become Presenting Premier Sponsor for USO San Diego’s 75th Anniversary Stars and Stripes Gala scheduled to take place at the Hotel del Coronado on Saturday, June 4, 2016. This highly anticipated black tie celebration will include a performance by the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band, a group that has entertained audiences from the Kennedy Center to Madison Square Garden. Former Navy SEAL and motivational speaker Clint Bruce will give the keynote address.
The Goulds have life-long connections with the United States military. Although she was born in France and grew up there, Hélène regularly heard laudatory stories about America and its soldiers from her father, a decorated veteran of World War II who was once saved by a U.S. medic. George, a native of Chicago where he had a career in investments, is a hands-on supporter of the Navy SEAL Foundation. He hosts fishing trips and cookouts and provides business advice to those transitioning to civilian life.
“My husband and I were raised in families where giving back is ingrained,” Hélène tells Giving Back Magazine. “It is in our DNA. We have not always had a lot but we give back a lot. And we love to support the U.S. military. They are the most amazing people, so devoted to their country.”
Founded in 1941, the USO has 180 locations around the globe, though most are in the U.S., usually near airports or military bases. USO San Diego, whose free services reached the military community over 330,000 times in 2015, operates two sites: one downtown and the other at the San Diego International Airport. Besides offering traveling members a place to relax, shower and communicate with distant friends and family, the centers provide activity kits for the children of deployed parents, holiday programs and, significantly, Transition 360 Alliance: an initiative to help service members successfully transition into civilian life with workshops on financial planning, crafting resumes and building networks. It is all about creating connecting military members and their families with home and country.
For many of the individuals who have benefited from the Goulds’ time and generosity, their family now includes both Hélène and George. The feeling is mutual. “When I was in the hospital for a brief stint not long ago,” recalls Hélène, “these wonderful young men in uniform showed up with flowers. I was so touched that they would find time to do that. They’re like family.”
There are a number of ways that San Diegans can help support USO San Diego and the military members they serve, says Hélène. “Give money if you can; but if you can’t, volunteer your time and talent. It’s hard, what they do, so let’s try to make their lives a little easier, a little bit sweeter.”